The owners of Valli Produce, the Arlington Heights-based grocer negotiating to lease the shuttered Dominick's store in the Evanston Plaza, reportedly now have a contract to purchase the entire shopping center.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz will ask aldermen at tonight's City Council meeting to approve a resolution that would let the city provide up to $2 million in tax increment financing district support -- originally authorized for the center's current owner, Bonnie Management, to the prospective new owners instead.
Valli's ownership team, Bobkiewicz tells aldermen in a memo, has formed a new entity called Azzurri of Evanston Inc. to acquire the shopping center on the southwest corner of the interesection of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue.
(The name Azzurri, apparently chosen by the Italian-immigrant owners of Valli because it's the name of several Italian national sports teams, refers to the blue, or azure, color of the team uniforms.)
The TIF aid would be limited to use for tenant improvements, site improvements and canopy repair that would have to be completed by the end of 2019 and would be subject to further City Council approval, once a specific plan for the work has been developed.
A tax increment financing district for the shopping center was approved by the City Council in May 2012. And the $2 million aid agreement with Bonnie was reached the following month.
Bonnie had acquired the property in late 2011 from a bank that had foreclosed on the previous owner.
Bonnie has had limited success in filling the many vacancies at the center in the 32 months it has owned the property.
Valli Produce has five stores, in Arlington Heights, Glendale Heights, Hoffman Estates, Loves Park and Rockford.
On its website, Valli says it emphasizes a wide array of imported grocery items and a broad selection of produce designed to cater to "the wide spectrum of ethnic groups in the Chicago area."
It reportedly plans to expand the 58,000 square foot Dominick's store to a total of 70,000 square feet by taking over adjoining vacant space in the plaza.
Safeway's lease on the Dominick's supermarket site still has several more years to run and Bobkiewicz says Valli is still in talks with the national chain to close the deal to take over the lease.