CHICAGO
10/15/2010 12:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Chicago Wal-Mart: 24 Stores Expected, Along With 'Neighborhood Markets'

After years of arguments about whether Wal-Mart would be good for Chicago, the big-box retailer finally got its foot in the door--and the city can now expect to see 24 new Wal-Mart stores.

The size of the Chicago stores, however, will be a bit different than usual. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

. . .plans include more Supercenters, which are now smaller than in the past: 180,000 square feet, down from 195,000.

Wal-Mart also wants to open so-called Neighborhood Markets, which measure between 30,000 and 60,000 square feet. Finally, Simon wants to open smaller stores, which Simon didn't describe, but analysts have said will likely measure 10,000 square feet.

The "Neighborhood Markets" will sell food and produce in busier areas, which were previously thought to be too congested for a Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart plans to build 30 to 40 smaller stores within the next two years, mostly in urban areas, Bill Simon, CEO of Wal-Mart, told Crain's Chicago Business.

Target, Wal-Mart's rival, has also been trying to expand into densely populated urban areas by making stores smaller.

"The fact that a significant number of planned new stores will be medium- or small-sized stores and not the large supercenters helps to ease some (but not all) of our concern about accelerating store openings at a time when (comparable store) sales are soft," St. Louis-based Edward Jones analyst Matt Arnold told Crain's.

As of today, there is one Wal-Mart in the Austin neighborhood. Two more stores were recently approved by the City Council to be built in the Pullman and Chatham neighborhoods.

It's up to the City Council to approve any and all new stores. The City Council blocked the expansion of Wal-Mart for years until they came to an agreement with organized labor this year when Wal-Mart agreed to pay workers at its new Chicago stores 50 cents more than Illinois' minimum wage.