On Friday afternoon, the mayor’s office issued a news release declaring that Shop & Save Market signed a letter of intent to open a new store in Jeffery Plaza at 2101 E. 71st St. The store is the last vacant former Dominick’s within city limits; its prolonged vacancy has frustrated city officials, residents and Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th, given the few other grocery options in that area.
Shop & Save owner Cezary Jakubowski confirmed the letter of intent Friday, while also acknowledging the deal is far from done. If everything goes well, the store could open within 18 to 24 months, he said.
“We’re definitely interested. We’re definitely making progress. I don’t have anything solid at this point, but it looks good,” Jakubowski said.
Kam Mateen, principal of Cannon Commercial, the Los Angeles-based firm that owns the 130,000-square-foot plaza, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said details are still being finalized, but that more than $10 million in city tax increment financing would be used to help fund the development. The mayor said the new store may not have the same footprint that Dominick’s once had.
“It’s not going to be just a replica,” Emanuel said. “It’s going to be what they think works economically, and every grocery store is different.”
South Shore has been classified as a food desert by City Hall since Dominick’s closed in 2014. Emanuel said getting a new store at the location fulfilled his pledge to have 10 Dominick’s stores that closed reopen under a new operator.
Asked why it took four years, Emanuel didn’t get into the specifics but acknowledged the difficulty of getting the job done.
“Every neighborhood is different, every new grocer is different. Some stores, a Jewel just walked in or a Mariano’s or Whole Foods. Others, for a whole host of issues, are different,” Emanuel said.
Last year, the city issued a request for proposals for developers to buy the plaza. In doing so, the city emphasized its goal for a grocery store to anchor the plaza and also said it could use eminent domain if necessary to help facilitate a deal.
Shop & Save is hoping to buy the entire plaza, keep existing plaza tenants and attract others, Jakubowski said. Remodeling the empty former Dominick’s will be no small task, he said.
“It’s just an empty box with a leaking roof,” Jakubowski said. “It’s a major, major construction.”
While South Shore’s former Dominick’s is the last unfilled in the city, there are more than 20 former Dominick’s stores in the suburbs that are now controlled by Jewel-Osco parent company Albertson’s that remain vacant.