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Evanston Trader Joe’s plan draws applause

view-looking-south

Plans for a new Trader Joe's store on Chicago Avenue in Evanston drew applause, as well as some questions, at a community meeting Thursday night where neighbors got their first look at renderings of the design for the market.

Evanston Alderman Melissa Wynne, whose 3rd Ward includes the grocery store site, reassured residents that all traffic to and from the store, including deliveries and garbage pickup, would  come through Chicago Avenue, rather than through the alley behind the planned building.

Top: A rendering of the planned building, looking south on Chicago Avenue. Above: Alderman Melissa Wynne speaks to the roughly 60 people at the meeting, held in the gym of the Chiaravalle Montessori School.

And she said the city's traffic engineering staff will be investigating whether any changes to traffic patterns, may be needed to deal with the store's traffic.

But she noted that the Blockbuster video store that used to occupy the site at 1211 Chicago Ave. also drew a lot of traffic — especially in the evening.

A Trader Joe's official said the store is likely to employe at least 60 people with at least 40 of them hired locally in Evanston, and that it will most likely be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Scott Gendell of developer Terraco, Inc. said his company has done more than 90 projects since its founding in 1986 in the Chicago metro area and nine other states.

Developer Scott Gendell talks about his company's track record.

He said those projects include the shopping strip at the corner of Central Street and Crawford Avenue that includes a Starbucks, and the project in Skokie that saw the 1926-vintage Skokie Swift train depot moved and totally renovated.

Wynne said that the city's $2 million investment in buying properties for use as parking for the story would be repaid from new tax revenue within four years.

Challenged by a resident about whether the new store wouldn't just cannibalize revenue the city already receives from the nearby Jewel and Whole Foods markets, Wynne said that city officials met with representatives from Whole Foods before the Trader Joe's project was announced.

A rendering looking north on Chicago Avenue, with the canopy of the gas station just south of the store site in the foreground.

She said they were told that while Whole Foods might take some traffic hit when Trader Joe's first opened, their experience in other markets suggests the business would rebound to its previous level within six months.

Gendell said the experience from other communities indicates people will shop multiple stores on a single trip.

"People who go to the Trader Joe's in Northbrook also go to the Garden Fresh market nearby," he added.

Architect Mike Breclaw said the landscaped parking lot would include bike parking near the store entrance.

Architect Mike Breclaw of OKW Architects said the new store would have a variety of materials ranging from brick to slate to metal panels like those used on some of the nearby auto dealerships.

Some residents said they didn't much like the metallic auto dealer look, but Gendell said the metal planned for the south side of the building, next to the gas station, would also provide a surface that could be used for murals to be created by local artists.

Despite some skeptical comments from neighbors, most joined a round of applause when one man praised the plan, saying the store would be a wonderful addition to the community.

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