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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Stanley’s Grocery Demolished But Future Of Site Near Lincoln Yards Uncertain

Novak Construction is marketing the site to "anyone who has an interest in the space," whether that's a commercial or residential developer.

Stanley's Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, 1558 N. Elston Ave., was demolished the week of March 17.
Hannah Alani / Block Club Chicago
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BUCKTOWN — The Stanley’s Fresh Fruits and Vegetables building in Bucktown was demolished this week — but it’s not clear yet what will replace the beloved Chicago grocery store.

Property owner Novak Construction demolished the building at 1558 N. Elston Ave. after receiving a demolition permit March 5, according to Department of Buildings records.

Jake Paschen, Novak’s executive vice president, told Block Club the company is currently marketing the site to “anyone who has an interest in the space,” whether that’s a commercial or residential developer.

“I think that the site could be used for a variety of uses,” he said. “We’re not focusing on any one use.”

Novak purchased the 45,877-square-foot lot for $8 million last year from the Peters family, the grocery store’s longtime owners.

The family initially listed the property for sale in July 2018. In April 2019, the family abruptly closed Stanley’s after 52 years, leaving dozens of longtime employees out of work.

RELATED: Stanley’s Abruptly Closes After 52 Years Of Selling Affordable Produce, Longtime Workers Caught Off Guard

Stanley’s is just west of Lincoln Yards, where developer Sterling Bay aims to create a 55-acre sprawling mega-development along the Chicago River within the Bucktown and Lincoln Park neighborhoods.

The April 2019 store closure took place just a few weeks after City Council approved $1.3 billion in subsidies for Lincoln Yards.

Because Sterling Bay had purchased nearby property — including Star Car Wash, a gas station at 1901 N. Elston Ave. — other developers were under the impression Sterling Bay would also purchase Stanley’s, the Peters’ realtor told Block Club.

Sterling Bay did not purchase the site, and the property went to auction, where Novak was among multiple bidders, the realtor said.

RELATED: Sterling Bay Buys Bucktown’s Star Car Wash But Iconic Neon Sign To Remain

Stanley’s was founded in 1967 by Stanley Peters, who retired several years ago. Peters’ son and other family members continued to operate the store, which offered produce on its shelves from more than 50 Midwest farms.

It’s not clear what will replace the grocery store. No building permits have been pulled yet, according to city records.

RELATED: Stanley’s Site To Sell For $8 Million To Novak Construction Company

Novak has worked on several large-scale projects in and out of Chicago. The company has also built nearly 200 Costco Wholesale buildings across the Midwest and East Coast. 

Novak has taken on smaller projects, too; in the West Town neighborhood, the company remodeled Erie Neighborhood House, the headquarters for the social services organization. 

Novak currently has no plans for the iconic Stanley’s sign, which depicts a man smoking a pipe and sitting atop a watermelon-turned-helicopter in the clouds. Those interested in the sign — or leasing the site — can call Paschen at 773-278-1100.

Credit: Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago
The land and building that once housed Stanley’s Fruit and Vegetables, 1558 N. Elston Ave., is for sale.

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