Southport neighborhood residents in Lakeview will be without a main grocery store for almost 18 months starting in spring 2008. That’s when the Jewel at 3630 N. Southport Ave. will be torn down and replaced with a new and bigger Jewel-Osco store.
At about 25,000 square feet, the Southport Jewel, one of 34 Jewel and Jewel-Osco locations in Chicago, is considerably smaller than most other stores, said Jewel-Osco’s spokeswoman Juanita Coranda. The new store will be 40,000-square-feet with a lot more to offer, she says.
“The neighbors have requested higher-end products, more organics, better produce and meat selections that can be accommodated in the new Jewel-Osco,” said Bennett Lawson, director of community outreach for Ald. Tom Tunney, who represents the 44th Ward where the Jewel is located.
He estimates the project will cost about $15 million.
The Southport Neighbors Association held numerous community meetings to discuss the need for a better grocery store. Many talked about the poor selection of food and the declining condition.
“The Jewel is in bad shape, and we received many complaints from shoppers wanting a better store,” said SNA President Jill Peters.
When demolition begins in less than a year, current shoppers will be looking for the nearest store to do their shopping. Peters, a Southport resident since 1998, thinks going for so many months without a grocery store at this location could cause a problem when the Jewel-Osco re-opens in 2009.
“It’s a concern, but I think it will be such an upscale store that people will come back just to be curious. It will be inconvenient for people,” Peters said. “But once it re-opens, people will like walking to their location to shop in a central area, and this should bring people back.”
Mary Ann McGrath, associate dean and professor of marketing for the School of Business at Loyola University, says shoppers don’t like change.
“People shop at the same stores and go through the aisles the same each time; closing the store will force people out of their routine,” McGrath said. “To get them back after the 18-month layoff, the renovation has to be exciting with higher-mark items, grand opening and coffee shops inside.”
There is no proposed plan for a coffee shop just yet, but there will a bank inside.
Residents looking for a place to shop while the new store is built won’t have to far to go. There are five grocery stores less than two miles away from the Southport Jewel. The closest is Trader Joes at 3745 N. Lincoln Ave., which is .75 miles away. A new Whole Foods Market, set to open later this month at Halsted and Waveland avenues, is .86 miles away.
The three other stores are all Jewel-Osco’s at 4355 N. Sheridan Ave., 3531 N. Broadway Ave. and 2924 N. Halsted Ave. A new Dominick’s store,1.51 miles away, will begin a rebuilding project at the end of summer at 3012 N. Broadway Ave.
At least one shopper didn’t seem to mind having to find a new place to shop while the Jewel-Osco goes up.
“It is small; there is no doubt about that. I think it is a good idea to make the change and hopefully bring some more things inside,” said 24 year-old resident Yuta Mori.
The new grocery will also extend over the current parking lot. A parking garage will be built underground that will accommodate up to 110 vehicles. Also included in the plans is a loading dock for delivery trucks to use instead of parking in the alley; this will help eliminate traffic jams.
Current Jewel employees will not be let go, said Lawson. They will be relocated to surrounding stores in the area. When the new store opens in late 2009, the employees will have an option to return to the Jewel-Osco to their old jobs.
Food North Side Public
44th ward grocery store jewel-osco lakeview southport neighbors association