Grocery chains acquire vacant Dominick’s stores

By Sarah Madera

After major grocer Dominick’s left Chicago and its suburbs in January, neighborhoods have welcomed announcements that grocers such as Whole Foods and Mariano’s Fresh markets will take over many of vacated stores once occupied.

Dominick’s parent company, Safeway Inc., announced Oct. 10 that it would exit the Chicagoland market, leaving 72 empty stores, 15 located in the city of Chicago, for grocery chains such as Cermak Fresh Market, Jewel-Osco, Whole Foods and others to buy.

Edgewater, a North Side neighborhood, will be the site of a new Whole Foods in early 2015 in the former Dominick’s building at 6009 N. Broadway, while Mariano’s plans to open in late March at 5201 N. Sheridan Road, according to a Jan. 31 post on Alderman Harry Osterman’s (48th Ward) website.

Osterman supports these new stores because they provide the community with more grocery options, according to the post.

Katrina Balog, executive director of the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, said residents’ reactions have been positive because most do not want the buildings to sit empty.

Paula Companio, owner of True Nature Health Foods, 6034 N. Broadway, a small market across the street from the new Whole Foods in Edgewater, said she looks forward to working alongside Whole Foods and does not worry that the store will negatively affect the revenue.

In addition to the new stores in Edgewater, neighborhoods such as West Town, Lincoln Park, West Rogers Park and the South Loop are also welcoming new grocery chains.

“The emptiness that has been there the last couple of months since Dominick’s has closed is very noticeable in the Ukrainian Village and the West Town area,” said Lisa Pugliese, part-time communications and membership director of West Town Chicago Chamber of Commerce. “There aren’t too many options, especially for people who are shopping by walking or by bus. Everyone is excited to see something come in.”

Roundy’s Supermarkets, the parent company of Mariano’s, plans to open new stores in Ukrainian Village and McKinley Park, according to a Dec. 2 press release.

Whole Foods will acquire three more Dominick’s stores in the West Loop, Streeterville and Lincoln Park, as well as three in the suburbs, according to a Feb. 3 Whole Foods press release.

The company is excited to expand its presence in the Chicago area and plans to remodel each store to reflect the community where it is located, said Michael Bashaw, Whole Foods Market Midwest regional president, according to a press release.

Jewel-Osco has already opened shop in two former Dominick’s locations at 1340 S. Canal St. in the South Loop and 2550 N. Clybourn Ave. in Lincoln Park.

Cermak Fresh Market, a smaller full-service grocery chain, has also acquired a former Dominick’s location in West Rogers Park at 6623 N. Damen Ave., according to a Jan. 10 press release from Alderman Debra Silverstein (50th Ward).

Tony’s Finer Food announced on its website that it will occupy a location in Lincoln Square at 5233 N. Lincoln Ave.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel created a grocery store task force in an effort to reoccupy the nine grocery stores that still remain vacant in the city, focusing primarily on five that have no firm plans for redevelopment. The task force is led by Deputy Mayor Steve Koch and has 20 members, including Aldermen Patrick O’Connor (40th Ward) and Joe Moore (49th Ward). The task force works with grocery chains to facilitate the leasing of the vacant buildings.