Valli grocery store requests aid for shopping center renovations


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

Cars pass by the lot where Valli Produce plans to open a grocery store this summer. Valli Produce requested financial aid from the city to fund improvements to the site.

Tori Latham, Assistant City Editor

Local grocery chain Valli Produce is on schedule to open an Evanston location this summer, pending approval of up to $2 million in financial assistance.

City Council will vote Monday on whether to approve the financial package, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said. At its Jan. 28 meeting, the city’s Economic Development Committee voted to support the store’s request for city aid.

“The money is intended to go towards recommended improvements at the grocery store site,” Bobkiewicz said.

These improvements will include the store’s physical expansion, enhancements to the facade, changes to the landscaping and the addition of outdoor bicycle racks to the center, said Mark Muenzer, the city’s director of community development.

Valli Produce bought the entire Evanston Plaza shopping center for $16 million in September. The center, located at the intersection of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue, was previously supported by Dominick’s, which closed all of its Chicago stores in December 2013.

“We didn’t suspect that Valli would also purchase the entire center,” Bobkiewicz said. “It’s really an added bonus and they’ve been very mindful of finding tenants.”

The Valli Produce ownership team expects to be able to provide several public benefits to the city, including the creation of 215 construction jobs and 375 long-term jobs, either through Valli Produce or other tenants. Overall, the team expects the total costs of development to equal $32 million.

“The space is an important retail space and serves as an economic engine for the city,” Bobkiewicz said. “I think Valli will be of a better quality than Dominick’s was and really serve the larger community.”

The grocery store has already been issued a demolition permit and is currently waiting on an interior permit, Muenzer said.

“The biggest contribution is that it brings an anchor back into the plaza,” he said. “It will provide additional retail and consumer benefits that will greatly benefit the city.”

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