Mariano’s Fresh Markets announced Wednesday afternoon it will build a new grocery store on the northeast corner of 87th Street and South Lake Shore Drive on the former U.S. Steel Works factory site — not far from a parcel in the same development being pitched as a future home of a Barack Obama presidential library.
At a news conference at the site, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn said the store opening would create hundreds of jobs. It is slated to open in early 2016.
“Every time a Mariano’s opens, 400 more jobs are created,” said Quinn, who added that jobs are a way to curb violence.
Emanuel stressed opening grocery stores in food deserts such as the Southeast Side is only a portion of revitalizing communities in need.
“Mariano’s in this site is not an island,” Emanuel said. “It is being reinforced with a series of other investments from our parks to our schools, for our after school programs and the neighborhood is getting the type of investment and job opportunities that they have seen go somewhere else…”
Dan McCaffery, the site developer and presidential-library site proponent, said the Mariano’s grocery store will be 70,000 square feet and will immediately serve the surrounding residential area that desperately needs a grocery store, even though the U.S. Steel property is empty.
“It’s on a prime corner,” he said of the Mariano’s site. “It’s a gorgeous location ... and a wonderful first anchor of the site.”
One site proposed for the Obama library is roughly one-third to one-half of a mile from the Mariano’s location.
McCaffery said there will be more retail as well as residential development on the U.S. Steel site within the next six months.