Neighbors split, but Goodwill moves forward

Lisa Dziekan

Plans to establish a Goodwill Industries resale shop in the Evanston Plaza shopping center moved forward at Monday's City Council meeting despite opposition from some neighbors.

Lisa Dziekan, a member of the city's Zoning Board of Appeals, who lives on Wesley Avenue about a half mile from the plaza, said Goodwill would not be a good use for the plaza and that in return for the financial assistance the city has given the plaza's new owners it should get  more higher-quality retailers there.

Brad Taylor.

And Brad Taylor, who on Darrow Avenue a block from the plaza, said Goodwill would create a tipping point that would make it impossible to attract higher-end retail stores to the shopping center.

But Priscilla Giles, who lives a mile from the center on Ashland Avenue, supported the proposal, saying the community needed stores where people who aren't affluent can find bargains.

An image of the vacant former A.J. Wright store at the plaza that Goodwill hopes to take over.

Representatives from the company said the store is expected to generate over 5,000 weekly visits to the shopping center -- equivalent to the business that would be generated by two national restaurant chains.

They also claimed that stores that have moved into various shopping centers after a Goodwill store opened range from Dunkin Donuts to Starbucks and from Walmart to Whole Foods.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said a lot of businesses have come and gone from the shopping center and that the new owners have got to make a living.

Goodwill, Wilson said, "might not be what we would all pick, but they're going to pay the rent, and it's important to make sure the shopping center can improve."

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said, "There used to be a curse on this shopping center -- bankruptcy, fraud, huge national chains that went out of business."

"The current ownership is better than we've ever had there before," Rainey added, saying she's not crazy about Goodwill, but thinks the city should take a chance on it.

None of the seven aldermen present for the meeting voted against introduction of the special use permit for the store. Final approval will still require another vote, scheduled for the Council's July 11 meeting.

Related story

Resale shop planned for Evanston Plaza (5/25/16)



Valli's pay day

I don't know much about Valli's investment in the shopping center, but if that "anchor" goes down, we have a problem. Any legitimate co-anchor that brings traffic to the south end of the shopping center should help. Valli never seems to bustle all that much, even during what should be peak supermarket times. The multiple payday and title loan options at Dempster and Dodge are blight that unfortunately detract from the plaza. I doubt they can be uprooted, but I wouldn't miss the contrast with the Heartwood Center and somewhat improved Evanston Plaza.

Rich vs. poor

Play It Again Sports is a resale shop and no one's whining about them... but I guess it falls under the "Acceptable" Range since it benefits the Riches and not the Poors.

Play it Again

It benefits ALL...and is a great place.

Plaza once had national chain stores

I wouldn't deem hard working middle class people that live in neighborhood as "Riches", that is a bit condescending. What is unacceptable is having Evanston Plaza become more blighted than it already is after starting to show some signs of life. I don't know about you, but I remember when the plaza had national chain stores in it and Good Will wasn't one of them and it surely wasn't Rodeo Drive.

Why would national chain [or other] want to come ?

After the Council argued so long that Sears pulled out [of what is now the Sherman Plaza], Orrington Hotel was suppose to have let McDonalds back after remodeling, Osco was suppose to return to Sherman Plaza [they had a small store leased during the building] but the Plaza changed their mind, Marshall Fields left downtown for Old Orchard, Lytons and Baskins left, Shaun Monehand Insurance left [big name in corporate insurance] because of taxes and the list goes on an on. Evanston is not known as business friendly--meetings without end to decide if to let them in [remember the Research Park disaster]; zoning hearings; high taxes; ever changing [and increasing regulations to battle over]. No they want to go to shopping centers like Old Orchard or to the Loop.

Goodwill = Great news!

I’m a hard working upper middle class person who own’s a home a block away and I am very excited about the incoming Goodwill. I’ve spent too many years looking at a half empty plaza. I’m excited not to have to drive into the city for a good thrift shop and I’d love to keep my money flowing in Evanston while encouraging re-use.

Goodwill vs. Salvation Army

Are these two organizations [store operation] supposed to be or have proved to be different ? A friend [at least middle middle class] lives close to the one in Skokie and says not only is there no problem but very popular with middle class people---Skokie and other places.

Not a blight

And Goodwill doesn't benefit everyone? Why is Goodwill considered a "Blight" when it provides jobs and low cost solutions for people with tight budgets? You can't whine about Low Income Folks not pulling themselves up by their Bootstraps when you take the Bootstraps away, and why are neighborhoods where Poor people live considered Blighted? Are Poor Folks a Blight in and of themselves? Because that's the message being conveyed. The Title/Payday Loan place didn't choose that location with a Magic 8 Ball. Perhaps if Goodwill had a fancy name like Crossroads (also a clothing resale shop in the heart of Downtown Evanston) it might be better received.

Good neighbors

Well you are right about one thing, the Title/Payday loan places didn't use a Magic 8 Ball to find their locations. Only time will tell to see what type Merchants want to do business next to a Good Will. I doubt that any whom choose to do so will be as notable as the tenants the Plaza once had back in the '80's.

What were these wonderful stores ?

The only store that I'm pretty sure of was was Fedder's Appliances. I think there was a Pizza Hut, Famous Footware and Toys are Us but I could be mistaken. Those did not last very long. Several years latter I went to the plaza for what the Yellow Book said was men's clothing store but there was none and people told me it was long gone and from what I could see there was nothing left of value.
Unless someone knows with high probability that "national brand" stores or even a decent selection of stores are eager to move there "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."
Sad to say the west side of Evanston shopping has had problems. Howard/Oakton McCormick has been an exception---but unless you live close or have a car, is of limited value to many. McCormick/Main did have K-Mart, Track Auto, Marshals [may still be there], Highland Electronics, a Waterbed store and maybe a Radio Shack. Yes Home Depot and Sam's Club [I are there now and doing well] , but even the CTA did not consider that a big enough draw to have a bus near.
Of course downtown Evanston is not exactly a mecca for shopping either.

Goodwill truth

You hit the nail on the head!


Goodwill Store

The potential additional of a Goodwill store at this mall is food for Evanston and for the Mall. Would the whiners rather se an empty mall? Most of the spaces available in the Mall aren't large enough for BIGBOX stores like Bloomingdales and Niem Marcus. If one wants stores with over priced products. Than go to them.

Pie-in-the-sky complainers

In Evanston, you can always find someone who's against everything, even Santa Claus. Goodwill is going to pay good rent to the landlord, the same folks who own Valli's Produce. Is a vacant storefront somehow more "upscale" than a resale business? I think not. I'm sure the owners would like to have Nieman Marcus fill the space, too, but they're living in the real (estate) world, unlike the pie-in-the-sky complainers who have lots of preferences but no skin in the game. And Valli shoudl be commended for sprucing up the plaza and for operating a first rate independent grocery with a tremendous selection of produce, fresh meat and liquors. The employees at the store are friendly, cooperative, and obviously treasure their jobs as well as your business. It's truly a pleasure to shop there.  Let the neighbors run their households and let Valli run the plaza. They're doing a bang-up job.