Construction Buzzes at Ashland Mariano’s (PHOTOS)
The construction site on the corner of Ashland and Webster avenues is clear, making way for a huge Mariano’s Fresh Market grocery store. But is the location, which is essentially wedged between Bucktown and Lincoln Park, already overrun with groceries?
Construction at the new Mariano’s Fresh Market grocery store on North Ashland Avenue is full steam ahead, and with the site almost completely cleared for construction, residents can practically start counting down the days.
The development of the 4-acre site bound by Ashland, North Elston and West Webster avenues comes after years of financial interruptions. But according to Paul Sajovec, chief of staff to Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), work is under way and there’s been no word of potential setbacks.
“We haven’t received any info about changes in timing,” Sajovec said. “… When the alderman first took office in 2007 this project was on the table. There was a planned development approved, but the financing for the deal fell through when the market collapsed."
He said the owners of the site had been marketing it for quite some time.
"Eventually these guys came in and just took the existing plan that was already approved,” Sajovec said.
That plan includes a nearly 75,000-square-foot Mariano’s grocery store combined with 317 parking spaces next to a second, two-story retail and office building. The Union Pacific Railroad used for Metra trains will flank the building, which will also feature a green roof.
“There’s certainly going to be a certain amount of cannibalization, but that’s a part of the retail industry. It’s not a food desert by any stretch of the imagination ..."
And according to Chicago Real Estate Daily, the buyers—Houston-based Transwestern Investment Management LLC and Bloomington-based State Farm Life Insurance Co.—say construction will be completed in 2014.
The investors purchased the property from Hayes Mechanical for $11.1 million in June, the report says.
“It's a great location,” Juan DeAngulo, managing director at Transwestern, told CRED. “We feel that this is an underserved community between Lincoln Park and Bucktown. We feel very confident that Mariano's is going to be successful in attracting families to do their grocery shopping there.”
While the location may be great considering Ashland Avenue’s high volume of traffic and the site’s proximity to the Clybourn Metra Station, some don’t exactly consider the area “underserved.”
Not even a mile away from the upcoming Mariano’s sits a Dominick’s, Treasure Island Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco. But according to Sajovec, that’s just part of business.
“I think it will be successful,” Sajovec said. “There’s certainly going to be a certain amount of cannibalization, but that’s a part of the retail industry. It’s not a food desert by any stretch of the imagination, but that part of Ashland has a ton of traffic … "
He added that those in Bucktown will find it more convenient than those in neighborhoods farther away, such as Lake View.
"I think the folks who are directly to the west are hungrier for other options more so than people to the north,” he said.
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Since prematurely breaking ground in 2008, the neighborhood has been flooded with other options such as Trader Joe’s, and Walmart Neighborhood Market, opening Jan. 16.
Now some neighbors are saying another grocery store like Mariano’s would be unnecessary.
Sajovec says it's the investor’s choice to construct the new Mariano’s in an area with so many choices, but based on the success of the store’s Roscoe Village location, it’s a risk they’re willing to take.
“The one over on Western Avenue has been really well received, and people seem to like it,” Sajovec said. “I think the store will do really well, but obviously, that’s the gamble the investors are taking.”