Build it and they will come. That’s what the Village of Oak Lawn is banking on with the signing of Mariano’s Fresh Market at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue.
Mayor Dave Heilmann officially confirmed the lease agreement with the upscale grocer at Tuesday’s village board meeting after news of the deal was leaked earlier in the day by Patch.
“One of the most important parts of getting someone like Mariano’s who has sales that are that strong is that it draws other people to the site,” Heilmann said. “If you’re getting a Mariano’s you’re doing very well.”
Mariano's Fresh Market is owned by Milwaukee-based Roundy's Supermarkets and has several locations in the Chicago-area helmed by former Dominck’s CEO Bob Mariano. A Marino’s Fresh Market is due to open on March 7 in Frankfort.
The store uses such luxury items as a wine and cheese bar, sushi and soothing piano music to lure customers into the store and then gets them to browse through the toilet paper and peanut butter, reported the Chicago Tribune.
The underperforming corner was long the center of a court battle when Sears Holdings sued the village in 2006 after the property was included in a TIF District. Sears Holdings leased the former Kmart parcel from J.C. Penney, which owned the land.
The village purchased the property from J.C. Penney in 2011, and entered into an agreement with the Itasca-based developer Hamilton Partners.
Almost one year ago, the village settled with Sears Holdings and development of the corner accelerated. The former Kmart and Harley-Davidson stores have been razed and demolition of Interstate Muffler is expected to start this spring.
Heilmann said that village board members were excited when the developer introduced the prospect of Mariano’s as an anchor tenant.
“All of the village board members got the same requests from residents about a Trader Joe’s or that type of store,” the mayor said. “All of the efforts to get Mariano’s is the combined effort of board members, staff, the developer, and of everyone trying to do the right thing for Oak Lawn, which is terrific.”
Heilmann said getting Mariano's was even better than a Trader Joe's.
Plans call for a 70,000-square-foot store facing 111th Street fronted by a water feature. The Mariano’s construction will have upscale architectural aesthetics similar to the Vernon Hills store.
The Oak Lawn Mariano’s will offer an Italian coffee shop, sushi bar, wine and cheese bar, salad bar and on-site chef to prepare food to take home. The plan also includes a parking field for 600 cars.
“Mariano’s has certain requirements and one is a large parking field, it’s that crowded,” the mayor said. “A store like that could generate $1 million a week.”
Heilmann store is expected to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and bring 400 jobs to the community, as well as 65 construction jobs daily while the store is being built.
No other tenants had been identified prior to Tuesday’s announcement, but the types of stores that have followed in other Mariano’s-anchored retail centers have included Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc., GNC Inc., Eggsperience Pancakes & Café, Massage Envy Spa, Supercuts Inc., Red Mango Inc. and Pet Stuff.
“We had expected that once we were able to announce Mariano’s that it will send the buzz out and we’d start getting more action with respect to who [will fill the other store fronts],” the mayor said.
The retail corner will be built in three phases, with Mariano’s Fresh Market being Phase I. Phases II and III include development of the former Kmart footprint and west toward LaVergne Avenue, incorporating the natural wetland.
“We do believe and have been told that [Mariano’s] would help us draw tenants to the current site and phases II and III,” the mayor said.
Residents continually asked for the types of high-end restaurants and stores that they had to travel out of Oak Lawn for. Owning the property makes it easier for the village to control its development, the mayor said.
“We’ve been trying to go forward with this project since 2006 and it took a long time,” Heilmann said. “Everyone stood strongly and united behind this.”