Trader Joe's Will Provide Rising Tide For Other Area Grocers

Christine Wolf's coffee with City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz continues as they discuss how Trader Joe's will impact other Chicago Avenue stores.

Editor's Note: This is the continuation of to discuss her concerns about the city paying to build parking near the new Trader Joe's. Check back tomorrow for the final installment when Bobkiewicz talks about other economic development projects in the city, particularly those along Howard Street.

Now what about the people who say, 'This is going to cost $1.4 million?' Do we have the money and how would that $1.4 million for a parking lot compare to the expected/anticipated revenue that’s gonna come out of Trader Joe’s [as mentioned earlier, I don’t discuss finances very fluidly]?

[Clarifies that “We’re talking closer to $2 million for both parcels of land]. A couple of things. One, we needed the parking to make the project happen, so one of the things we have to do in city redevelopment is look at the bigger picture. This is probably the number one retail "want” of Evanston residents. There were very few places that Trader Joe’s was willing to go in the community from a geography standpoint; they don’t want to be too close to either of their other stores. They have one in Roger’s Park and one in Glenview, so they have a sort of radius they need to be in. So … if this parcel was gonna be it, we felt that it was going to be this parcel or they weren’t coming to Evanston anytime soon. We needed to help with parking.

So then it becomes “what’s the market value of that property?” and it’s about $2 million. We expect that it’ll generate between $400,000 to $500,000 a year in sales tax revenue. So then you look and say, 'Okay, what are the pros and cons to this?' From a strictly cash basis, more or less four years after they’re here, if we were to only take the money from the store, that would pay for the property. If there’s a 25-year lease, having Trader Joe’s here for 25 years, is it a reasonable expense to do that? That being that, we’re not giving them anything. If you think about it, we’re buying property that the city maintains ownership of, so we thought that was a good thing versus simply saying, 'Here’s a $2-million loan that we might get back as cash,' but here we’re buying property that will always be our property.

And now what our challenge is, working with the developer, how can that parking garage best serve the community? Trader Joe’s will need it from 8, 9, 10 o’clock in the morning till 8, 9, 10 o’clock at night. So, are there opportunities for us to park residents there from closing to opening, which we think that there are.

Well, and think about all the people going to and Union right now. That’s a huge [parking problem]. I live in that neighborhood. I know there’ll be a lot of foot traffic, which should sort of cancel out the naysayers who say we’ve already got two Whole Foods and a Jewel … and now we’re just adding a parking lot and [increasing the carbon footprint of Evanston] … what would you say to them?

It’ll be within walking distance of a CTA. And we’ve been working with Whole Foods already, because obviously they see this as changing their marketplace, and…

Well, why do we need two Whole Foods within less than a mile from one another?

Because both of them make money.

Ah, true. [I’ve been schooled by Bobkiewicz]

The city didn’t put them there. was a Wild Oats, and Whole Foods purchased it. Both of those stores do very well. And we’ve talked to them over time, asked them if they want to consolidate, but they’re happy.

Now, I know for a fact that Whole Foods is saying, 'What do we need to do to up our game?' They’re not looking at this as a ‘Woe is me’ situation; they’re saying ‘What can we do to even further our niche in the Evanston community?’ They see this as a challenge and we’ll work with them closely. Jewel has a whole other niche. And for a Trader Joe’s shopper or a Whole Foods shopper, is generally complimentary. We’ve talked to other communities around the country that have a national grocery store, a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods, all in the same area, and generally, the water rises for all boats. You’re a sailor. You know.

Thank you for knowing. Do you know which communities have a similar setup?

We’ve talked to a few in California. And what we’ve heard is there’s a shock to the system, that everything is sort of turned upside down for the first four, five, six months, and then things settle down. Because you bring in new people who have not come — and I think that’s where the CTA comes — we’re gonna be the closest northern area where you can get off [to go to a Trader Joe’s] … Rogers Park, folks from the northern suburbs who maybe don’t go to TJ’s now because they don’t go as far as Glenview or Northbrook, they start coming and then they may stop at a Whole Foods, so the Whole Foods that they go to further north they’re not going to anymore because they’re going to ours.

So all that stuff sort of shakes itself out. So all the stores will experience some change, and I think Whole Foods is trying to be very proactive about it, saying, ‘We’ve got a year or so; what can we do to start repositioning ourselves to our strengths?’ And Jewel’s gonna be just fine.

lucas April 04, 2012 at 02:41 AM
They didn't think it was worth 3 million dollars to get one
jim April 04, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Christine Wolf you failed to ask Mr Bobkiewicz what kind of sales he expeccts at Trader Joes to generate that kind of sales tax revenue. Remember this is a Grocery Store.
Sharon Eckersall April 04, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I am confused. Please "unconfuse me". You are speaking about two parcels for approximately $2 million. Which 2 are they? The Blockbuster space is valued at $4 to $5 million and the parking Lot (LA Tan building) at $1.4 million? These 2 add up to more than $2 million. Am I missing a parcel. There is a house on the parcel to the North?
jim April 04, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Sharon its the LA Tan building and a house to the North of it.
Jo April 15, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Traffic is already a problem on Chicago Ave. Trying to pull out of Jewel to go North is nearly impossible during rush hour. Is the City planning on doing anything to address the increase in traffic that will occur with the new Trader Joe's?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »