NORTH LAWNDALE — A grocery store has signed on to open in a new commercial development being built in a West Side area that has struggled with food access.
Urban Market plans to open in the forthcoming Ogden Commons development at in about two years, officials said. Spearheaded by the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council, the development at 2600-2700 W. Ogden Ave. will bring a health village to the West Side to address the root causes of health disparities.
The Ogden Commons project will also have a one-stop-shop outpatient medical center run by Sinai Chicago to improve access to care, a landscaped outdoor area, affordable housing, a bank and retail space and a children’s museum.
Among the most glaring challenges to living a healthy life in Lawndale is the lack of places to buy healthy food in the neighborhood, said Leslie Mitchel Bond, a board member for Sinai Chicago who is working to bring the grocery store to Ogden Commons. When the grocery store opens, access to fresh food could improve significantly, she said.
“What’s more important to achieve health in the community than having access to nutritious, affordable and culturally relevant foods? People in North Lawndale deserve that just as much as any other neighborhood,” Bond said.
Bringing a grocery store to the neighborhood has been a longstanding priority for residents, and was one of the main strategies for improving community health outlined in the 2018 North Lawndale Quality of Life Plan. The only other supermarket in North Lawndale is Leamington Foods at 3240 W. Roosevelt Road, which is more than a mile away.
Supermarkets often overlook low-income neighborhoods, which has made it tough for West Side communities to attract healthy food businesses, Bond said.
“A lot of other grocers have looked and weren’t willing to do the investment. These grocers really listened to the people who are already in the community,” Bond said.
The store at Ogden Commons is an opportunity for Urban Market to bring nutritious food options to the neighborhood, said Angelo Palivos, the grocer’s general manager.
“We’re going to be a traditional fresh store with a little more healthy options,” Palivos said.
Urban Market will hire locally and support local entrepreneurs by stocking items like packaged foods and baked goods made by small businesses on the West Side, Palivos said.
“I like to have new items, a startup company’s product line, somebody that’s coming out with a new product. I think it’s cool. It’s nice to help neighborly people,” Palivos said.
The grocery store will also tie in with other health-focused locations at Ogden Commons, like the North Lawndale Children’s Museum. The museum will have a child-sized grocery store exhibit to encourage young people to eat healthy, Bond said.
Families visiting the museum will learn about healthy foods and recipes that suit specific nutritional needs, like meals that are suitable for a heart-healthy diet. In the grocery exhibit, parents will be able to get coupons and ingredient lists they can take to Urban Market to recreate those meals at home, Bond said.
“From a very young age, children will learn to enjoy fruits and vegetables. Their parents and caregivers can go home and prepare those things,” Bond said.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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