Local supermarket chain buys Evanston shopping center

Paige Leskin, City Editor

Local grocery chain Valli Produce finalized its $16 million purchase of the Evanston Plaza shopping center Thursday, where it plans to open a grocery store and improve current storefronts.

Valli Produce bought the shopping center, located at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue, after finishing negotiations with former owner Bonnie Management Corporation. The corporation originally acquired the shopping center for $8 million in December 2012.

Owners of the supermarket hope to be able to open as early as mid-May, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said. The city will assist Valli in connecting with local employment partners to find staff, who will be hired closer to the store’s opening, he said.

Valli’s owners intend to renovate the shopping center according to a presentation given to the Administration and Public Works Committee on Sept. 8.

The owners’ plans include relocating some of the current storefronts and improving others to make the entire shopping center more aesthetically pleasing and convenient for customers.

Valli Produce approached Evanston officials earlier this year to sublease a 70,000 square foot space in the shopping center formerly occupied by Dominick’s, which closed all of its stores in the Chicago area in December 2013.

Since Dominick’s closure, Bobkiewicz said the entire shopping center had been at a “standstill” as owners waited for a new tenant to take over the grocery store’s place. Now that Valli owns the entire center, it has incentive to work to restart activity and improve the area, he said.

“(The purchase) gives an active parent to the center now … a lot of things will start happening,” he said. “First and foremost it’s a big positive for the 2nd Ward. All of Evanston benefits.”

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Twitter: @paigeleskin

Previous stories on this topic:

Replacement for Dominick’s in talks with city
Dominick’s stores in Evanston to close by end of year