Grocery store could come to long-vacant Lombard site
A push to get a grocery store in downtown Lombard could breathe new life into a village-owned parcel that's been vacant for a decade.
The village this week released a request for proposals that invites developers and grocery store operators to submit plans for the former DuPage Theatre site along South Main Street, immediately south of Parkside Avenue.
Trustees are hoping the process ultimately will result in a grocery store being built on the 2.19-acre property, which currently has a commuter parking lot sandwiched between two fields of grass.
"The northern part of the village hasn't been supported by a grocery store for a few years," said Trustee Bill Johnston, who is chairman of the village's economic and community development committee. "We felt this was an opportunity to see what type of facility we could get to service that particular market."
Lombard has a Jewel at Roosevelt Road and Main Street, six 7-Elevens and a Target store that sells groceries. A Mariano's is expected to open late this summer at the southeast corner of Roosevelt and Finley roads. In addition, a Sam's Club has been proposed for the intersection of Butterfield Road and Fairfield Avenue.
Still, Johnston said residents living on Lombard's north side must take "a nice drive" to reach a grocery store in town.
The north side had a Mr. Z's Supermarket for decades, but that iconic store abruptly closed in September 2013.
"The need is truly there," Johnston said.
Village officials said the "request for proposals" process is intended to gauge private sector interest in a grocery store and demonstrate the village "is committed to working with a qualified development team on a project that enhances" downtown. The goal is to create the "best deal" for the village and the development team, they said.
Lombard has owned the theater property since it was donated to the village in 1999. The theater that once stood on the site was demolished in May 2007.
William Heniff, Lombard's director of community development, said nothing happened with the property after the theater was razed because of the economic downturn.
"But now our village board has given direction to move forward," he said.
Heniff said developers and grocers will have until Sept. 5 to submit plans to buy and redevelop the property.
It's unclear what the response will be. But officials say the site has "excellent frontage" along Main Street and is centrally located with proximity to other retail businesses, offices and the Metra station.
Johnston said it's worth the effort to lure a grocery store, especially since it would help support other downtown businesses.
"If we want to fill a void and bring a grocery store to further stabilize our downtown, this would be an opportune time to do it," he said.
Information about the village's effort can be viewed at villageoflombard.org/101SouthMain.