Wielding a golden-colored shovel, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl officially broke ground Thursday on a new Trader Joe’s planned for 1211 Chicago Ave.
Local officials joined representatives of the developer, Terraco, Inc., to mark the beginning of construction planned for the former location of Blockbuster Video.
The grocery store is long awaited in Evanston, where a 2008 deal to bring Trader Joe’s failed. Residents have been talking of bringing the store to town for years, and broke into spontaneous applause when site plans were announced in June 2012.
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“It is a question of what took you so long,” the mayor quipped. “We’ve wanted you for a long time and we’re thrilled that you’re finally here.”
Tisdahl said Trader Joe’s joined a number of other new developments along Chicago Avenue, including a residential high-rise planned for Chicago and Kedzie and a proposed office and retail building at Chicago and Main. On Monday, Evanston aldermen also approved creation of a tax-increment financing district that runs along Chicago Avenue from Dempster to Oakton streets.
Ald. Melissa Wynne, who oversees the first ward where Trader Joe’s will be located, said the residents behind the store on Hinman Avenue had “made this a better project.” After neighbors raised concerns about the site plans—which initially permitted some access to the alley behind the store—Terraco revised its plans to completely close off delivery trucks’ access to the shared alley.
Wynne said the store would spur business success along Chicago Avenue, and noted that a new bakery, called Hewn, is planning to open nearby on Dempster Street.
“That is a direct result of this activity here,” she said. “This will benefit all businesses in the area.
Scott Gendell, president of Terraco, Inc., said he expects the store to open in October 2013. The store will provide free parking to customers on three lots just north of 1211 Chicago Ave. The city purchased those lots for $2 million to provide parking for the grocery store; Terraco will be responsible for construction and maintenance costs as well as a one-time license fee of $25,000.
Terraco Inc. also owns two properties adjacent to the Trader Joe’s lot, at 1231 and 1233 Chicago Ave. Gendell said he already has an interested buyer for one of the spaces. He could not provide specific details since the deal is not finalized, but said the buyer might be a business that provides a combination of art and entertainment.