A big box retailer is eyeing the vacant Dominick's property in Lake in the Hills and village officials are hopeful a deal might soon be in the offing.
"As part of the village's economic development initiative we've been proactively identifying best-fit retailers based on market data and approaching them," said Gino DeVivo, Lake in the Hills economic development coordinator. "We've been talking to this particular retailer since September."
Dominick's stores throughout the suburbs closed the last couple months after Safeway Inc., sold off many of its locations and pulled out of the market entirely.
Long before closure notices went out, Lake in the Hills had been working with the current owner -- LNR Property -- of the Dominick's property located at the northeast side of Randall and Algonquin roads in the Center at Lake in the Hills shopping center.
"We saw the writing on the wall a year and a half ago," DeVivo said. "We saw an empty parking lot and a store that was not operating to the best of its market area abilities. In an effort to work with the ownership, Dominick's was willing to leave before the lease expiration well in advance of the public closure."
The Dominick's store lease runs through 2017.
Negotiations with another big box retailer fell through last year.
"We are in the final stages for this particular (retailer) that they are looking at," DeVivo said. "We are working with them to split the space."
The existing building could be split up to accommodate two retail tenants, with the big box retailer taking up 53,000 square feet and another retailer getting 20,000 square feet.
"We would gain two major retail anchors," DeVivo said. "We're trying to turn this into a positive for the village. We don't want the vacant anchor for a major strip center at our vital commercial corner to be vacant any longer than it needs to be."
There has been little movement with the vacant Dominick's property that anchors the shopping center north of Routes 14 and 22 in Fox River Grove.
Safeway currently owns the site but negotiations with potential buyers haven't been fruitful, said Derrick Soderholm, Fox River Grove village administrator.
"People in Fox River Grove are really anxious to see another grocery store in that site," said Soderholm, adding there are no other grocery stores in town. "It would be ideal to just replace it in that site since the building is already fitted for a grocer."
Lake in the Hills officials initially reached out to grocery store chains, including Whole Foods and Mariano's, and other major buyers that have taken over leases for vacant Dominick's stores elsewhere.
But no one was interested in taking over the Dominick's site because of market saturation, DeVivo said. There is a Jewel Osco across the street, a Joe Caputo & Sons kitty-corner to the property, along with Meijer and Costco within a half mile or less.
"Everyone is hopeful that something would be happening there," DeVivo said. "It will be a positive injection of retail for that entire area. It is a vital anchor that draws commercial interest, brings customers to the area, helps surrounding restaurants and tenant spaces, brings economic vitality to that immediate retail corner."
The buzz around the Dominick's site also has spurred interest in a five-acre property to the north, which will be auctioned off March 14 by Hilco Real Estate. The bidding will start at $500,000.
"Retail attracts retail," DeVivo said. "We're excited about that."