Pols put differences aside to bring upscale grocery store in South Shore

SHARE Pols put differences aside to bring upscale grocery store in South Shore
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel | Getty Images

Thank God for election season.

That seems to be the only time we can count on things getting done — like the South Shore community finally getting a grocery store to replace the cavernous hole in Jeffery Plaza that Dominick’s left in 2013.

Shop & Save Market is an upscale grocery chain with stores at 59th and Archer, 6312 N. Nagle and in the suburbs.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) has had a difficult time getting a grocery store to locate in the aging strip mall.

In 2014, Hairston went on a rant against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, accusing him of not doing enough to bring a grocery store to South Shore.

“It’s very difficult for the mayor to say he’s doing enough when he’s announcing grocery stores all over everywhere except in the place that needs it the most,” Hairston said at the time. “He knows people. He could do more.”

I couldn’t reach Hairston on Friday after it was announced a deal had been struck.

The mayor was eager to talk about it. Tackling the city’s food deserts was one of his first campaign promises.

“It is a real grocery store — not the same footprint — but it will have everything you want,” Emanuel said.

The major acknowledged that he and Hairston aren’t always on the same page but said their disagreements never slowed down this process.

“We can have disagreements on X and agreements on Y,” Emanuel said.

He pointed out that it took 47 years for a new grocery store to come to Englewood. Whole Foods Market opened an 18,000-square-foot store in 2016 at 63rd and Halsted.

“You’ve got to be a dog with a bone,” Emanuel said. “The administration went after it and stayed at it. We also put in some resources. You’ve got to keep coming back and coming back until you find a sweet spot for what you need and what they can do.”

As Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman reported, the fate of the mall itself has been up in the air. It was up for sale in 2015, and the abandoned Dominick’s site was subdivided and repurposed as a fitness club.

While Whole Foods Market, Jewel-Osco and Mariano’s snapped up other vacant Dominick’s stores, the Jeffery Plaza site was snubbed.

I never understood why.

Black people want to cook healthy meals, too.

As it stands, most of my neighbors have to drive to Hyde Park to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, or go to the Jewel-Osco at 75th and Stony Island.

The biggest problem with the Jewel-Osco at that location? It’s so busy. Besides long checkout lines, you’re bumping into someone at every turn. I won’t even get into how things are in the parking lot.

Residents in South Shore ought to be jumping for joy that Save & Shop is on the way.

At one community meeting, a lot of people in the neighborhood were adamant that they didn’t want a Save-A-Lot, a discount grocery chain.

That sounds snobbish, but it really isn’t.

It’s a matter of equality.

People who live on the South Side of the city want access to the same amenities as people on the North Side. They also want choices.

“I think people get Shop & Save and Save-A-Lot confused,” said Tonya Trice, executive director of the South Shore Chamber. “From what I understand, they will be more of an upscale store — with fresh pastries, a deli, organic food. Those are the type of things the community was hoping to see in our next grocery store.”

Shop & Save Market has signed a letter of intent, and construction is expected to start in six months.

“I am confident they will provide us with a quality store and quality name-brand products,” Trice told me. “I think the community will be happy.

“This is hopefully an opportunity to add some life right back into that mall as well. Right now, it’s turning into a ghost town.”

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