Thursday, May 15, 2014

So will something come to the 71st/Jeffrey space?


Vacant 71st/Jeffrey space by Eric Allix Rogers/flickr

Here at The Sixth Ward, we've kept our eye on the Mariano's that's expected to come to the Bronzeville neighborhood. It's our way of keeping on eye on this so-called "food desert", the lack of access to full-service grocery stores in many "minority" neighborhoods around the city. We could especially focus on the south side of town.

So while it appears Mariano's corporate owner Roundy's has finally sealed the deal on coming to 39th/King Drive - construction expected to commence next year - a south side neighborhood lost their local Dominick's store and still waiting for a tenant to take it's place. In fact, 5th Ward Ald. Leslie Hairston recently tore into Mayor Rahm Emanuel over this:
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said Wednesday she feels “like I’m living in a part of the city that’s been cordoned off” after Mariano’s unveiled plans to build a new store in Bronzeville while a shuttered Dominick’s in South Shore remains vacant.

Hairston said she’s so incensed by Emanuel’s failure to go to bat for South Shore — and, what she calls Emanuel’s North Side-centric development efforts — she’s considering running for mayor, emboldened by a Chicago Sun-Times poll that shows Emanuel with support from just 29 percent of those surveyed.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Roundy’s CEO Bob Mariano have scheduled a news conference to tout the new store at 39th and King Drive that’s expected to start construction next year, create 400 jobs and “expand access to healthy food options.”

That only pours salt on Hairston’s political wound. She’s been told that Mariano’s isn’t interested in the empty grocery store at 71st and Jeffrey Boulevard, but she has not been told why. She’s still sitting there with Chicago’s only shuttered Dominick’s that has yet to find a replacement grocer.

“I feel like I’m living in a part of the city that’s been cordoned off. Every day, I drive by the vacant Dominicks’s in Jeffery Plaza and I’m wondering if we’re ever going to get a place to shop,” Hairston said.
She's probably taking swipes at the mayor for this reason:
Emanuel formed a “grocery task force” in December — and asked Hairston to co-chair it — to find new operators for Chicago’s shuttered Dominick’s stores. But, Hairston accused the mayor of failing to go to bat for South Shore.

“He should work harder to make sure there is a grocery store in Jeffery Plaza. He needs to put the same type of energy and effort [into that] that he is putting into building a school named after the President from my ward” on the North Side, Hairston said. Hairston was just getting warmed up about Emanuel’s controversial plan to use $60 million in tax increment financing funds to build a new selective enrollment high school named after President Barack Obama near Walter Payton College Prep. 
Ah so there was a grocery task force formed by the Mayor to find new tenants or uses for the many vacant Dominick's stores around the city. And the South Shore store on 71st remains vacant today!

Either way there is hope that another retailer could be interested in the space and hopefully there might be a new tenant within three months:
Shervin Mateen, CEO of Los Angeles-based real estate firm Cannon Commercial, said the company and its agent have been talking to a number of supermarket operators about that remaining city location. His company is evaluating which retailer could be best for the space with the city's involvement, he said. A number of unnamed companies are interested and in talks, Mateen said.

"We're hopeful that within the next three months the selection will be made," Mateen said.

Mateen said his company would prefer to lease the vacant space at the Jeffery Plaza shopping center in South Shore to a retailer that sells groceries.
While I can understand Ald. Hairston's South Side rhetoric, this is one possible reason why the South Short Dominick's store remains vacant:
The store, at roughly 62,000 square-feet, might be too big for some local operators to fill, and some people involved in the industry have suggested splitting the space in order to lease at least some of it to a smaller operator. However, Mateen said his company would prefer to lease out the space "in its entirety."

"It needs a bigger-sized operator in order to digest this size," Mateen said.

Once a company is chosen to take over the lease, Mateen said he expects quite a bit of improvement will need to be made, with the costs shared between the retailer and his company.

There is still another year left on California-based Safeway's lease for the store, at 2101 E. 71st, Mateen said.
I also remember that there is a Jewel on 75th/Stony Island so perhaps that part of the city isn't served by a grocer. Still what would you like to see at the 71st/Jeffrey site as far as a grocery store goes?

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