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Article updated: 10/10/2013 5:30 PM

Rooney still hopeful that Rolling Meadows grocery will open

By Deborah Donovan

Many people around Rolling Meadows are asking about Uncle Joe's Tuscan Fresh Market, the grocery store that was expected to open this fall in the long-empty Dominick's site on Kirchoff Road. Mayor Tom Rooney says he is still hopeful that the store will eventually open.

Rooney said this week that Clark Street Development still expects Uncle Joe's will be the anchor tenant at the revitalized shopping center.

It is Rooney's understanding that financing is not yet finalized for the grocery store, which will be the first of its kind. The city cannot issue permits for construction to start until it receives building plans.

"Yes, the aldermen are getting questions from residents," said the mayor. "When something takes this long, everybody starts to wonder. It has taken far too long. But sometimes the city can do more harm than good by trying to push."

Originally, a member of the Caputo family, known for its fresh produce stores, was an owner of the proposed store. In July, Louis Ruffolo, who has a long involvement with the Caputo family, said the project was solely his.

Dominick's left the shopping center almost a decade ago, and the center has been all but vacant for much of that time.

The mayor's announcement of the new grocery store was the highlight of his February state of the city talk to the Rolling Meadows Chamber of Commerce.

Rooney has called the center with 133,000 square feet of gross leasable space the city's "armpit," and the city has struggled for years with attempts to get the property redeveloped, including hiring consultants to study its best use and at one point rezoning part of it for housing.

The development will receive an estimated $4.5 million in city and county tax breaks and contributions, including the sales taxes the grocery store will keep. Uncle Joe's will get 50 percent of the total sales tax it generates, up to $200,000 a year and a total of $1.8 million.

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