Evanston Plaza sale — big payday for seller


Valli Produce completed its purchase today of the Evanston Plaza Shopping Center — reportedly for twice what seller Bonnie Management paid for the property less than two years ago.

Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says Valli reports it paid $16 million for the property. Bonnie Management and WHI Real Estate Partners purchased the property out of receivership from Bank of America in December 2012 for $8 million.

Valli has announced plans to completely renovate and expand the shuttered Dominick's supermarket in the center.

Evanston aldermen last week approved giving the city manager authority to negotiate an agreement with Valli to take over an existing tax increment financing arrangement with Bonnie Management that could provide the owners up to $2 million in assistance with renovation of the shopping center.

Valli co-owner Frank Greco says his company, which owns five other stores in Illinois, likes to be the owner-operator of the properties in which its stores are located.

Bobkiewicz says Valli hopes to open the store as early as mid-May next year and has asked the city to help connect with local employment partners to begin recruiting staff.

Recruited management staff would be trained up at other Valli locations and then then transferred to the Evanston Plaza at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue when it's ready to open. Other staff will be hired closer to the new store's opening.

Bobkiewicz praised members of the city's economic development staff for their work on the project and thanked Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, for his leadership in reaching the agreement with Valli.

Update 2:11 p.m. 9/19/14:

In a statement today, Greco said, “We want to make a positive impact to the food selections available in Evanston creating a family atmosphere and a sense of community that our customers can be proud of. In addition, we felt it was important to purchase the shopping center to improve the overall shopping experience at Dempster and Dodge. The retail offerings at this plaza have been stagnant for several years and we hope to revitalize its potential."

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