ANDERSONVILLE — Plans to redevelop a Clark Street bank building into a Trader Joe’s have come to a halt following the death of the property owner and prospective developer, officials said.
Property investor Alan Schwartz, the owner of the U.S. Bank at 5340 N. Clark St., had proposed tearing down the property and replacing it with a combination bank-and-Trader-Joe’s complex, bringing the beloved specialty grocer to Andersonville.
Schwartz had bought the home at 5339 N. Ashland Ave. to make room for the development, which called for a drive-thru ATM and mini-park at the corner of Summerdale and Ashland avenues. The bank building, meanwhile, would have been rebuilt as a Trader Joe’s and U.S. Bank with rooftop parking.
Schwartz died in late December, and those plans do not appear to be moving forward, Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th) said.
Schwartz, 91, a Yale and Harvard Business School alumnus who had a career in business before moving into real estate, died Dec. 2, according to his obituary. He was also the founder of Midtown Athletic Club.
His son, Steven Schwartz, had planned to partner with him on the project but it is unclear if he is still pursuing those plans. Steven Schwartz could not be reached for comment.
Vasquez’s office has tried to gauge interest in finding another developer to take on the project, but it has been “challenging to coordinate calendars to have a subsequent conversation with U.S. Bank and/or Trader Joe’s,” Vasquez said in an email.
“I am not confident that this would be moving forward,” Vasquez said.
The proposal was hotly debated among Andersonville neighbors, as Far North Side neighbors have been clamoring for a Trader Joe’s.
A community meeting on the project was held in late October, when neighbors debated if the grocer would bring more shoppers to Clark Street or if it would cause competition for locally owned produce stores and wine shops.
Vasquez’s office received over 700 survey responses from neighbors on the Trader Joe’s proposal following the October meeting, his office said. Two-thirds of respondents were in favor of the proposal.
But before signing off, Vasquez asked for a traffic impact study for the area. He also asked Trader Joe’s representatives to answer questions about community programs the retailer would bring and how it would operate to lessen the impact on nearby neighbors.
Vasquez’s update on seeking the traffic and operation clarifications was made public Nov. 17, weeks before Schwartz’s death.
Trader Joe’s is often one of the first businesses Far North Side neighbors pitch for new developments.
In 2020, West Ridge neighbors and business development officials petitioned Trader Joe’s to open at the former Baker’s Square spot at Western and Touhy avenues.
That site has since been redeveloped into a strip mall anchored by Starbucks.
In 2015, Edgewater neighbors pushed for Trader Joe’s to open at the former home of El Norte at 5600 N. Ridge Ave., but the company declined the offer. Instead, a School of Rock music lessons business anchors that development.
Trader Joe’s almost came to Edgewater before that. The strip mall on Broadway just north of Foster Avenue was slated to house a Trader Joe’s. But the company pulled out at the last minute, much to the dismay of neighbors, DNAinfo Chicago reported. A PetSmart, Chipotle and Starbucks ended up coming to the development.
Logan Square residents also fought to bring the store to the Megamall redevelopment, to no avail.
Trader Joe’s has six locations in Chicago, including one in Lakeview and two in Lincoln Park. There is also a Trader Joe’s in Evanston.
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