Filling the Old Osco at Oakton and Asbury is Tricky

Readers say they want everything from a grocery store to a yoga studio, but filling the empty space has proven difficult.

A couple weeks ago, Evanston Patch at the corner of Oakton Street and Asbury Avenue. We got more than two dozen replies, with the majority of commenters eager to see a small, speciality food store move in.

While there are ongoing conversations with two potential businesses, filling the space has proven difficult, city officials say.

"Any of those things would be great," said Paul Zalmezak, Evanston's economic development coordinator, responding to Patch reader suggestions. The issue is sealing the deal.

Zalmezak said the city has had conversations with small, concept grocery stores, "but they have not pulled the trigger."


Zalmezak and 9th Ward Alderman Coleen Burrus both said there are preliminary discussions going on with two potential occupants of the space, but said it was too early to give any details on who they are.

Burrus addressed the empty 14,000-square-foot space in a recent newsletter, explaining to residents that the poor economy has made finding a new occupant difficult. Adding to that, she explained, is the fact that CVS (which bought Osco's parent company) has a lease on the property through 2020.

"This represents a drawback to potential tenants that are interested in ownership of the property because the current property owner has not had an interest in selling," Burrus wrote.

Burrus said there have been talks with both local and national grocery chains about the spot, including .

"As the commercial real estate market begins to warm up and more national and regional retailers indicate a willingness to expand, it is our goal to bring that wave of expansion to Oakton and Asbury," Burrus wrote.

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Richard Schulte March 13, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Aside from the national economic headwinds, there is the anti-business attitude in Evanston (e.g., the Tilted Kilt, the harassment of Office Depot by neighbors over a sign that exceeded the sign code limitation by 5 inches and the attack on Dominick's over its lease stipulation about the use of the parking lot). It seems to me that Evanston residents prefer people to be unemployed and lease spaces to be empty. Oh, one other thing, the economy is not getting better as indicated in this article. (That's just propaganda for the election.) The price of gasoline is in the stratosphere now ($4.20/gallon) and headed much higher. (Interestingly enough, gasoline was $3.51/gallon along I-70 in western Missouri 4 days ago.) You can expect the economy to tank once again due to the cost of gasoline. You might want to take a look at Crain's Business article on the business climate in Chicago and Illinois in general. Ooops. Chicago/Illinois simply can't compete because of the political structure in Chicago and Illinois. No business person in his right mind would want to expand in Illinois. Being a sane business person myself, my business left Evanston in early February (after 23 years in business) headed for either Texas or Florida-haven't made a decision on which one of those states just yet.
mij March 13, 2012 at 06:37 PM
"As the commercial real estate market begins to warm up and more national and regional retailers indicate a willingness to expand, it is our goal to bring that wave of expansion to Oakton and Asbury," Burrus wrote. IS THE ALDERPERSON AWARE THE TWO LARGE RETAILERS OPENED NEW STORES IN SKOKIE LAST YEAR?
Richard Schulte March 13, 2012 at 07:07 PM
With gasoline at $4.20/gallon and rising, it will be cold day in hell before the Chicago economy heats up. Let's get started on the Keystone XL pipeline today. Drill, baby, drill. Build the KXL pipeline and get rid of Obama and everything will get better quick. What we really need is "hope and change". Let's hope we change presidents in November. Yes, Sully, it's all Obama fault.
Mark Guizer March 13, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Rich, I looked up your company. You haven't even been in Evanston 15 years and your company of 3 leaving isn't really hurting Evanston at all. Also, go youtube gasprices in 2008 and see what fox news had to say about presidential control of gas prices. Of course, maybe NOW the president has control over it. LOL.
Richard Schulte March 13, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Mark, bad data. My company has been located in Evanston since its founding in 1988-23 years. Take a look around downtown Evanston-lots of vacant lease spaces. Evanston doesn't need any company leaving, much less an internationally know engineering expert (World Trade Center collapse). If [President] Bush and the Evil VP Cheney were responsible for the high gas prices a few years ago, then the current occupant of the White House must also be responsible for those gasoline prices. Notice the correlation between the decision on the KXL pipeline and high gas prices-I have.
lucas March 13, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Perhaps the City needs to cut a deal for a inside farmers markets/produce store. Or a flea market
Sully March 14, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Of course, Richard. It's all Obama's fault. And Mark, I have no idea what Rich is referring to regarding his "company" or his internationally known reputation. He's the proverbial legend in his own mind.
Allison B March 14, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Hey Richard Schulte - now that you've left Evanston, can you do everyone a favor and stop trolling our local news sites?
Allison B March 14, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Oh, and I definitely think a produce mart would be best!
Richard Schulte March 14, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Ahhh, Sully from Winnetka chimes in. Rather interesting how Sully didn't have anything to say about the Patch article on housing discrimination in Winnetka. Imagine Mr. Social Justice (Sully) living in a community that practices housing discrimination. Sully is just a 1 percenter who's really just a chihuahua. Sully was in a hurry for me to leave Crook County and now that I have, he still doesn't have anything nice to say. Thank you for all the humor you provided Sully. I'll send you some sand from those white sand beaches in Florida.
Richard Schulte March 14, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Why? Somebody has to be concerned about Evanston. When I moved to Evanston in 1983, Evanston was a great place to live, but the quality of life has been deteriorating rapidly as of late. Sad-East St. Louis used to be great place too (in the late 1940's). It only took E. St. Louis 10 years to completely implode. Evanston looks like it may follow in the footsteps of East St. Louis. Time to take Jim's advice and abandon a sinking ship.
jkerr March 14, 2012 at 11:43 AM
"the harassment of Office Depot by neighbors over a sign that exceeded the sign code limitation by 5 inches" Since when is enforcement of an existing ordinance considered harassment?
Sully March 14, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Gee, thanks Rich! You said you hadn't decided between Texas and Florida. I think Texas would be a great match. You and Rick Perry- together again.
Richard Schulte March 14, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Sully, the problem with Texas is that there is a little too much sand for me there. I like my sand on a beach (or in concrete). I've have enjoyed our discussions Sully. Oh, btw, my preferred candidate for president on the Republican side is still Sarah Palin, not Rick Perry. Sarah Palin is the only one I really trust. Senator DeMint of South Carolina would be my 2nd choice. Of the declared candidates, Newt is my choice. In 2008, we got our first black president. Perhaps, in 2012, we get our first Newt president. Romney just doesn't excite me, but he still an anybody but Obama candidate. I'd vote for any stray cat on the street before I'd vote to re-elect BHO.
Sully March 14, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I see why it's a difficult decision between the two states. Here- maybe these will help: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/13/443827/floridas-budget-handouts/ http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/03/14/443807/texas-school-sports-league-asks-muslim-school-if-it-wants-to-eliminate-the-infidels-denies-its-membership-application/
Richard Schulte March 14, 2012 at 05:33 PM
John Kerr: "Since when is enforcement of an existing ordinance considered harassment?" The sign code is a collection of arbitrary requirements-absolutely nothing to do with health or safety. I guess we should stop and ticket everyone who drives 31 mph in a 30 mph zone. Speeding is a safety issue. A violation of the sign code has nothing to do with safety. Yes, getting excited over 5 inch violation of the sign code is harrassment.
Richard Schulte March 14, 2012 at 05:42 PM
That Sully is a prince of a fellow. Always willing to help a conservative make an important decision. It might come down to which state has better grapefruit-white grapefruit come from Florida and red grapefruit from Texas. Hmmm. . . tough decision.
Sully March 14, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Not a big fan of grapefruit myself.
Richard Schulte March 14, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Ahhh. . . that settles it then. I'll send you a box of grapefruit instead of a box of sugar white sand from the beach. Because of my high regard for you (and other progressives), I'll throw in a Sarah Palin bumper sticker too. It will look good on your Bentley-the bumper stick I mean, not the grapefruit. :-)
Sully March 14, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Bentleys are so New York. We stick to the BMWs around here. Come on Rich- get with it!
millie March 15, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Several produce stores opened on the edge of Evanston recently just won't open here. Must not have offer them thousands of dollars to open up shop.


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