SOUTH SHORE — The new Shop & Save supermarket slated for the old Dominick’s location in South Shore will be open by the fall, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said this week.
Hairston said the empty storefront at 2101 E. 71st St. in Jeffrey Plaza, the last vacant Dominick’s site left in the city, has the been the “bane of her existence.”
“It has taken almost six years to find a suitable grocer to replace this much needed store,” Hairston said in a Facebook video posted Monday afternoon, flanked by supporters. “Like so many projects in the 5th Ward, we had to rely on personal relationships to attract a full-service grocery store to the shopping center.”
Hairston told Block Club Chicago last week that although plans for the store were set in motion last year, the process was delayed until $10 million in tax-increment financing (TIF) funds were approved and paperwork was finalized.
Hairston said other “out-of-town” grocery owners she courted were more concerned with the bottom line than addressing South Shore’s food desert crisis.
“It takes some time to get it done, but we’re done,” said Hairston, who is up for re-election next week. She’s running against former Hyde Park Herald editor Gabriel Piemonte and activist William Calloway.
Piemonte was surprised Hairston was touting the store, saying that the longtime vacancy was a failure on her part — not a win.
“I believe it’s unwise to claim full responsibility for taking five years to replace the last empty Dominick’s in Chicago,” Piemonte said. “If anything, the community made this happen … folks like Val Free and Anton Seals Jr., who spearheaded the push, organized community meetings to find a replacement.”
With six other Shop & Save locations in the Chicago area, the new store will serve as an anchor at Jeffrey Plaza. In a deal Hairston said she negotiated, owners Cezary and Eva Jakubowski bought the entire 113,000-square-foot shopping center, but the community will have the final say on which businesses move into the space, the alderman said.
The total cost of the project is $25 million.
While city officials have gone on record saying that their involvement made things happen, Hairston told the crowd Monday that it was networking that brought Shop & Save and other economic development projects, like the Stony Island Arts Bank and the Stony Island Starbucks, to the neighborhood.
“Networking has been the single greatest economic-development and job-creation tool I have in my toolbox,” said Hairston, who added that she has brought three grocery stores to the ward during her tenure as alderman.
“We know that the Southeast Side of Chicago is grossly underserved, and that is why I don’t hesitate to speak out for parity,” Hairston said. “You would think that our location, diversity of people, income, and professions would be enough. It has taken persistence and hard work.”
Work on Jeffrey Plaza is already underway, and when all is done, the new grocery store will be something the community can be proud of, a promise from the Jakubowskis, Hairston said.
“It should’ve never taken this long to get a replacement grocer,” she said.
Piemonte agreed, saying Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) — who is accused of stealing tens of thousands from a charity fund in his ward — was able to secure a grocery store in Englewood well before South Shore landed one.
“A man who allegedly stole money from orphans managed to get a grocery store in his ward before she did,” Piemonte said.
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