A small family-owned grocery chain is hoping to move into the vacant Osco store at Asbury and Oakton in Evanston.
Nick Merikas, a partner in Farmer's Best Market, told the city's Economic Development Committee Wednesday that he's negotiating to sublease the property from CVS, the pharmacy chain that closed the store two years ago after buying the free-standing Osco drug stores in the metro area.
Farmer's Best now operates stores in Northlake and Chicago.
Merikas said he hopes to purchase the property from the building's owner once CVS's lease runs out in about a decade.
The committee authorized the city's planning staff to negotiate with Farmer's Best for a possible sales tax revenue-sharing agreement to offset costs of converting the property to the new use.
One wrinkle in the deal emerged at the meeting, when it was learned that CVS this week sought to block liquor sales at the site as part of a lease agreement.
CVS doesn't have a city license to sell liquor at its store a few blocks away at Howard and Asbury, but Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, speculated that with the recent closing of the liquor section at Walgreens drug store across the street from CVS in the Howard-Western shopping center in Chicago, CVS may be seeking to prevent a possible future competitor for liquor business in the neighborhood.
Despite that, Rainey said, CVS has been very helpful to the community in keeping the building empty in hopes of finding a grocery store tenant of the sort the community wants.
"They would have been able to lease it to an auto parts store or all sorts of other non-desirable uses," Rainey said, "and they've kept it empty out of deference to the community."
Merikas said he hopes to be able to work out the liquor issue with CVS. He said having some beer and wine available to his customers is essential to his success, but it would be a minor part of the store's overall product line.