Turns out that the retail giant secured all the necessary construction permits in advance of the council considering a moratorium on large retail chains in Chinatown. The council just voted 13-0 to instruct the City Attorney to prepare a temporary ban on chain stores, but the Walmart store will move forward. From the LAT:
Robert "Bud" Ovrom, general manager of the city's Building and Safety Department, told the council that Wal-Mart obtained the construction permits to renovate the ground floor of the building at the northwest corner of Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues on Thursday. The council's vote on a moratorium had been planned for Friday. "This project is moving forward. This ordinance would not have any immediate impact on this project," Ovrom told the council.
The proposed moratorium received lots of push-back during this morning's council session, with several big-name business leaders - among them Chamber of Commerce CEO Gary Toebenn and Carol Schatz of the Central City Association - vehemently opposing the measure. Here's what Walmart said in a statement right after the vote:
"Now that our Walmart Neighborhood Market has received all necessary approvals, we look forward to serving downtown customers soon. We appreciate all the community support to date and will continue to engage with residents and businesses in the area to talk about the jobs, economic development opportunities and new grocery options our store will deliver."
*Update: So how does the mayor support Walmart's new Chinatown location without actually having to mention the word "Walmart"? Check out his statement:
I have long supported bringing fresh and healthy grocery options to all of Los Angeles. This issue is about providing fresh food to underserved communities and bringing new jobs to Los Angeles. I am aligned with the Community Health Council, the NAACP and the California Endowment's Fresh Works Fund efforts to bring fresh food to food deserts. All communities deserve access to fresh and healthy food.