The new grocery store

Night-time construction at Clark and Division, Chicago
All the sudden, several old familiar grocery stores are closing and being torn down.

From my bus stop at night, I can see the work going forward on the site of the old Jewel at Clark and Division.  It was a large store, right next to the el, with a very large surface parking lot.  A few months back, the building was demolished, and now the entire site is being redeveloped.  It is valuable real estate, in a high density neighborhood.  No doubt the new grocery store will be larger, and there will be a parking deck of some kind; and more use will be crammed on to the site, wrapped within a taller building.

It’s no big deal, perhaps, in a commercial area with a fairly high level of density already.  But the same thing is happening in my quieter and less built-up neighborhood, where a massive new Mariano’s is going in on a crowded stretch of Broadway and our old independent, family-owned Market Place grocery is closing.

The Market Place has been owned by the same family for decades.  It sits on prime real estate not far from the lake and the park on Diversey.  Behind its single-story building is a parking lot with an attendant where shoppers can park for free.  We have heard that it will be redeveloped into a hi-rise condo building, and supposedly that the Market Place will reopen on the first floor–in three years!

This is the store we ‘run out to’ when we need something.  A piece of fresh fish, or a cabbage that we need for a last-minute dinner.  No more running out for us.  Going to the grocery store is going to be a big deal, with a bigger store and an enclosed parking deck to contend with.  And in neighborhoods where grocery stores were one-of-a-kind and cozy, shoppers will be forced to support bigger and more impersonal concerns.

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