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Lockport lukewarm toward Salvation Army store

Updated: May 21, 2014 6:29AM



Lockport has four resale shops, and city officials aren’t keen on adding another one.

At a city council committee meeting this past week, they discussed a plan to open a Salvation Army store.

“Do we want Lockport to be the resale capital of Will County?” city administrator Ben Benson said. “It’s up for debate. I’m of the opinion it’s not something we want right now.”

The Salvation Army store is proposed for a storefront that’s now occupied by Corwin Pharmacy, 954 E. 9th St. The pharmacy still is open, but Bob Hansen, who owns the shopping center, said the business is about $80,000 behind in rent and is being evicted.

Hansen said he has been looking for another business, but his consultant has determined that most national retailers want to be located near Interstate 355, which is about two miles away.

Mayor Steven Streit said the city is trying to attract more retail stores, and the consultant it has hired to attract retailers is opposed to any more resale shops. Streit said another such store would not be the best use of the space.

“I don’t believe we can absorb this. ... If this (store) goes in now, it defines us,” said Streit, adding that he had spoken with many residents who weren’t excited about having another store in town selling secondhand goods.

The proposed site is zoned for business use, but a resale store would require a special use zoning permit. The planning and zoning commission approved a permit by a 3-2 vote on April 8.

Pamela Hirth, Lockport’s economic development director, said some who spoke at the commission meeting were concerned about people dropping off donations during off hours and the drop-off area being unsightly. She said commissioners imposed conditions to try to ensure that the store would maintain a good appearance.

A Salvation Army spokesman said the store would employ about 30 people and provide sales tax revenue for the city. He said their stores tend to complement other thrift stores and not take business away from them.

But one Lockport thrift store owner said she was worried that her business would be harmed if the Salvation Army store were to open.

Ald. Kelly Turner (2nd) asked Salvation Army Capt. Rob Buttrey if they had considered looking at vacant sites in Romeoville, and Buttrey said they had not.

Turner’s question irked Ald. Denise Marynowski (4th), who said, “We get tax revenue. We get people employed. ... I don’t understand why we recommend opening in other cities to give them our tax revenue.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the proposed store at its May 7 meeting.



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