Tisdahl: Trader Joe’s coming to Evanston in 2013

Marshall Cohen and Alexandria Johnson

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Specialty grocery store Trader Joe’s will open a store in Evanston next year, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced Friday during a press conference at the store’s future location.

The Trader Joe’s will be developed at the site of the former Blockbuster video rental, 1211 Chicago Ave., near the Dempster CTA stop. The current building will be knocked down to make room for the new 13,000-square-foot store.

“I’m thrilled to be standing in front of this group and be able to say that in a year, I’ll be standing in front of a brand new Trader Joe’s,” Tisdahl said.

The grand opening is planned for the first quarter of 2013, Tisdahl added.

Tisdahl was joined by Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd), whose ward the new specialty foods store will be located in.

“My phone and my email have been buzzing all morning with this news,” Wynne said. “It’s been a long year of shaking people off. These negotiations are long and just time-consuming, and you don’t want to give them away.”

Although residents have speculated about Trader Joe’s for years, serious negotiations between the city, the property owner and the grocery chain began about one year ago, Wynne said. She praised Johanna Nyden, the city’s “point person” for the project, and other economic development staffers for their efforts to successfully close the deal.

However, their work is not quite finished. City staff will continue coordinating with the developer, the property owner and Trader Joe’s to work on planning, zoning and receiving permits, according to a news release issued Friday by the city.

Wynne told The Daily after the press conference that the new grocery store would benefit Northwestern students as well as Evanston residents.

“If students like Trader Joe’s goods, it’s only one El stop away,” Wynne told The Daily. “It’s just not that far, and a lot of Northwestern students ride their bikes. It’s not that far of a walk either in nice weather.”

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the city is doing a lot of additional work on Chicago Avenue, including working with the CTA on the new viaduct, developing a new office building on Main Street and Chicago Avenue and family apartments in the area as well.

The new Trader Joe’s will be located in close proximity to two other Chicago Avenue grocery stores, Jewel-Osco, 1128 Chicago Ave., and Whole Foods Market, 1111 Chicago Ave., both of which are visible from the site.

“It’s really going to be a catalyst,” Bobkiewicz said. “The ability to have a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods and a national store like a (Jewel-Osco) all within a couple blocks is a really neat thing. There are few communities that have all three in one place.”

Jewel-Osco employee Anita Duesenberg said she currently sees a lot of “cross shopping” between Jewel and Whole Foods among consumers. Although there is a certain level of product overlap, she said the planned development of Trader Joe’s in the area will be “great for everyone.”

Wilmette-based development firm Terraco arranged the contract with Trader Joe’s. Terraco CEO Scott Gendell told The Daily the company has developed real estate in the Chicago market for about 27 years and acquired this property about one year ago.

“Trader Joe’s is literally my favorite store – I love it,” Gendell said. “This store will be a sensation. It will blow the doors off. At the end of the day, it will be a focal point for the community.”

Also in attendance were aldermen Judy Fiske (1st), Peter Braithwaite (2nd) and Delores Holmes (5th), as well as Steve Griffin, director of community and economic development, among other city officials.

The planned Evanston store is the 14th Trader Joe’s location in Illinois. In the past, Evanston residents needed to travel to Glenview, Park Ridge or Chicago to shop at Trader Joe’s.

But after tough negotiations and planning, Trader Joe’s in Evanston is now a reality.

“There were some times when we thought it may not happen,” Wynne said. “There are a lot of bumps because different things get in the way and things just don’t come to fruition. But today is a very exciting day.”