Black-owned company signs building contract to reopen Gresham Save A Lot after $13.5M grant

Plans for the closed Gresham Save A Lot have been solidified, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces $13.5 million in grants to go toward Yellow Banana-owned stores, including the Gresham location.

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Yellow Banana, an Ohio-based company, wants to reopen the closed Gresham Save-A-Lot store by the end of the year.

Yellow Banana, an Ohio-based company, wants to reopen the closed Gresham Save-A-Lot store by the end of the year.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Less than two weeks after first proposing plans to reopen a shuttered Gresham Save A Lot, a Black-owned company has been given a $13.5 million grant from the city of Chicago to redevelop the store and other locations throughout the South and West sides.

Ohio-based Yellow Banana owns and operates six other Chicago store locations that were previously owned by Save A Lot — and still carried the Save A Lot brand name. Co-owner Michael Nance told the Chicago Sun-Times that receiving the funding from the city allowed the company to secure a contract on the Gresham site at 7908 S. Halsted St., and it hopes to open by the end of the year.

Yellow Banana is the largest recipient of a total of 79 TIF grants announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday to support the “vitality and livability” of local neighborhoods. The company says it prioritizes investing in communities that are in food deserts and wants to deliver a better product to Chicago’s South and West sides.

“I know in Chicago, the Save A Lot banner has really overstayed its welcome in many respects,” Nance said in a July community meeting. “I know … they left with virtually no heads-up to the community. But me and my business partners, we looked at this as an opportunity.”

Yellow Banana’s existing stores are located in Auburn Gresham, Morgan Park, South Chicago, South Shore, West Garfield Park and West Lawn.

Using the $13.5 million grant and private funding, the company plans to purchase the buildings it rented from Save A Lot as part of a licensing agreement, which will help it lay “down true roots in communities that need access to fresh, affordable food at competitive prices,” it said in a statement.

Being able to purchase the buildings from Save A Lot also allows Yellow Banana to reallocate money to other aspects of the business, it says. Each store will also receive renovations including exterior remodeling, inside painting, reflooring and new refrigeration.

“When we own the stores, we can invest in them the way that we like a lot easier,” Nance said.

Mariah Rush is a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South and West sides.

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