New grocery stores will do more than provide additional options for shoppers later this year in three DuPage County communities, officials say.
If all goes well, the stores also will generate sales tax revenues, create jobs and help put a fresh face on some areas that needed a little pick-me-up.
"Fresh," as a matter of fact, seems to be the key word in all three projects: There's Mariano's Fresh Market in Wheaton, The Fresh Market in Glen Ellyn and Caputo's Fresh Markets in Carol Stream.
Construction or site work has begun on all three. Here's an update on what's happening.
In Wheaton, the anticipated Oct. 15 opening of Mariano's at the intersection of Naperville and Roosevelt roads can't come soon enough for city officials.
Mayor Michael Gresk says the addition of the store at the former Hubble Middle School site is a sign the economy "is on an upswing."
Mariano's will feature a full-service bakery, sushi restaurant and other in-house cooked foods along with a full selection of products and organic items.
It also will provide an attractive and inviting gateway to the city's downtown, officials say.
"For us, Mariano's is a very aggressive food retailer. They aggressively pursued this site because of its location in terms of Roosevelt Road and the tollway," Gresk says. "This is a development that many communities would envy, and they chose Wheaton because it matches their metrics for household income and major arterials through town. It will be a regional destination that will bring people to Wheaton."
James Hyland, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for Roundy's Inc., the parent company of Mariano's, says the location was carefully selected.
"A lot of research goes into our site planning such as geography, demographics, ingress/egress and lot size," Hyland says. "Our research determined Wheaton to be an ideal location for a Mariano's store."
Gresk says the store's regional drawing power is the reason the company expects to do $70 million to $80 million in annual gross sales.
"What that means in sales tax for us is phenomenal," Gresk says. "I'm not counting that money yet, but if it follows true to form with other Mariano's, it will be a boon to the area in terms of sales taxes and jobs. I believe they said it's going to be 100 (full-time equivalent) employees, which means 200 people will probably work there in shifts."
Hyland won't discuss any specific sales figures but says customers will be able to differentiate Mariano's from other stores.
"Our Wheaton customers can expect a shopping experience unlike any other. While our stores share many similarities, each has nuances that make them unique. As we get closer to the opening, we will share the special characteristics of the Wheaton floor plan with the public," he says. "Suffice it to say, our Wheaton customers will experience a differentiated shopping experience with exceptional produce and other perishables, competitive prices and superior customer service."
The Fresh Market
A mile east of Mariano's, a direct competitor will be opening in Glen Ellyn.
The Fresh Market, a high-end grocer with six locations in the suburbs, is scheduled to open late this year on the site of the shuttered Packey Webb Dodge dealership at 285 Roosevelt Road.
Work crews have been performing asbestos abatement on the site and also remediating underground petroleum leakage from an adjacent gas station, according to Mike LaRue, a Highland Park-based broker for The Fresh Market, a national chain headquartered in North Carolina.
LaRue says the store will represent a European-style market that specializes in high-quality, fresh merchandise. Customers will be able to choose from different types of beef, such as Black Angus and Hereford, and select crabcakes "equal to the best restaurant you've ever eaten in," he says.
The grocer has been looking at the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton market for seven years, but it wasn't until two years ago that serious discussions began about locating at the Roosevelt Road site, LaRue says.
Officials from the project's developer, Opus Development Corp., have said a sales tax-sharing agreement approved last November by the Glen Ellyn village board was essential in making the project a reality.
The village will receive the first 10 percent of all sales tax revenue, and the remaining portion will be split, with 60 percent going to the village and 40 percent going to the developer. The arrangement ends after 10 years, or once Opus receives $1 million, whichever comes first.
The Fresh Market will anchor a $12 million, 34,200-square-foot retail center to be named the Glen Market, which also will include 10,000 square feet of retail space for as many as five retailers. A dry cleaners is one of the proposed retailers, though village officials have also said a restaurant could locate there in the future.
The 70,000-square-foot Caputo's grocery store on the southwest corner of North Avenue and Schmale Road in Carol Stream is expected to open by the end of this year or early next year, according to Giancarlo Presta, general manager of the six-store Chicago-area grocery chain.
The store is one element of a three-pronged development that was granted village zoning approvals last August. The company's corporate offices have moved on site, relocating from Addison, while renovations are nearing completion on a warehouse that will serve as Caputo's distribution and production facility for all its stores.
When the warehouse is complete, construction will begin on the store, Presta says.
When the store opens, it will feature product development areas where shoppers can test new items and bakery and meat departments where customers will be able to interact with bakers and butchers.
"Customers, when they're ordering bakery items, will be able to look behind the bakery and see us making stuff from scratch," Presta says.
There also will be an outdoor retail sales area for seasonal items.
Village and Caputo's officials have been in discussions for about three years over a potential sales tax-sharing agreement -- an economic incentive that's previously helped lure other businesses to town.
Village Community Development Director Bob Glees didn't release details of the proposed pact but says it will be considered for approval July 15 by the village board.
He says the village's tax increment financing district at North and Schmale could provide funds to help spur development of the rest of the 27-acre site owned by Caputo's, to be named Carol Stream Marketplace. Plans call for construction of five outlot buildings with a total of 78,000 square feet for retail, restaurant and other commercial uses.
The site was vacated six years ago by McKesson Corp., a pharmaceutical company.