Evanston’s Plan Commission Wednesday night postponed action on plans for a Trader Joe’s market at 1211 Chicago Ave. to provide more time to resolve concerns raised by people who live across the alley from the site.

Pat Mulhern, of 1224 Hinman Ave., said that, like several other neighbors who spoke, he conditionally supports the project.

“I would like to see the store get built,” Mulhern said, adding that, with the developer’s agreement Wednesday to fence off the alley from store traffic, “I think we have resolved the alley issue.”

But Mulhern listed several other neighbor concerns.

He said neighbors want store deliveries limited to from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., while Trader Joe’s wants to be able to accept deliveries from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

He also urged that the chain be required to turn off the store’s signs when the store closes, so neighbors don’t see glare from the signs all night.

And he suggested that a cinder-block wall might provide a better noise barrier than the eight-foot-tall wood fence proposed by the developer.

Tracy Quattrocki, a District 65 school board member who lives at 1220 Hinman, said she loves to leave her windows open at night in good weather, and the idea of three semi-trucks making deliveries at all hours seven days a week “really frightens me.”

Former Plan Commission member Doug Doetsch, of 1216 Hinman Ave., said that until some issues are worked out regarding noise and traffic congestion, it’s not clear that the Trader Joe’s project meets the standards for Plan Commission approval.

And Dan Dorfman, of 1232 Hinman, said he believed the developer should provide landscaping along the alley side of the fence, for aesthetic as well as noise control reasons.

Top: Neighbor Tom Mulhern tells the Plan Commission about his concerns with the Trader Joe’s project. Above: Developer Scott Gendell speaks to the commission, with architect Mike Breclaw at his side.

Developer Scott Gendell of Terraco Inc. said he wished some of the issues had been raised a month ago, “but I think a lot of good has come out of this hearing.”

He said he’d work with city staff and the residents to address the concerns.

“Some things that are an issue now will be a non-issue once the store opens,” Gendell predicted, arguing that new HVAC — or heating, ventilation and air conditioning — units that would be mounted on the store’s roof are far quieter than ones produced just a few years ago.

He said he believes the store won’t create a substantial amount of new traffic on Chicago Avenue. “A lot of our customers are already there,” Gendell said, adding that neighborhood residents will be able to bike or walk to the new store, rather than getting in their cars to drive to existing Trader Joe’s in other communities.

The Plan Commission voted to take up the Trader Joe’s issue again at its next regular meeting, on Wednesday, Aug. 8.

The Plan Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say on the project.

The Trader Joe’s would replace a former Blockbuster video store, two other storefronts and an old house now located on the property.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Trader Joe’s and its Neighbors

    Landscape the alley? Please. Do other stores do that? Do neighbors do that. A cinder Block Wall? Please! People who live on the west side of Hinman knew they were buying homes that backed up on commercial business establishments. What will be next, they will object to groceries being sold at a grocery store.

    Same old same old. The people of Evanston have wanted a Trader Joe's store for years, now that it is close, let's make it impossible to operate.

  2. Be careful what you wish for

    you might get it…  

    Are these the same neighbors who lobbied in favor of bringing TJ into that location? Did none of them have ANY thought of these issues before? Did any of them even THINK before begging the city to give up millions to TJ so they could be "close to their favorite grocery" store and not have to travel to other cities?

    Typical.  Not an ounce of forethought among a supposedly intellegent community- just give us what we want NOW.  Used to be when a child did that they'd be called a Spoiled Brat.   Reminds me of the Veolia Fiasco- did that developer look at the area they built high-priced lofts in BEFORE the 'aroma' problem was brought out?  Did the owners of those lofts THINK before they bought there?


    YOU were the ones who begged for TJ to come into YOUR neighborhood. YOU wanted them there, YOU made the concessions. YOU live with it.

    You're getting what you wished for. You sold your comfort for a bucket of 2-buck-chuck..


  3. There is a word for it—

    NIMBY  Except in this case they [may have] wanted the store when they wanted it but when they were not shopping there but other wise be a 'brigadoon' and just evaporate into the clouds until they next need it.

  4. It is actually refreshing

    It is actually refreshing to see the neighbors wring some reasonable concessions on traffic, noise and lights after TJs shook down the City for a subsidy. The shoe is on the other foot now! Hooray for citizen democracy!

  5. Trader Joe’s on Chicago Ave.

    Whole Foods, just half a block south of the proposed TJ location, has deliveries and I haven't heard anything about that being a problem. There have also been and currently are restaurants a few doors north of the location and I'm sure they get deliveries. Where did this new concern come from?

    1. where do they make their deliveries?

      Can you tell us where those deliveries are made? in the alley or from the front in the parking lot?

      That seems to be the issue. As to restaurants, it is doubtful that three semi-trailers a day deliver to Union, or the other restaurants. That is the TJ plan

      Admittedly, those who live behind this site knew there was commercial use behind their homes when they bought, much like those who live near O'Hare knew about the airport. However, the old uses did not necessarily generate the same level of truck traffic, the same size of vehicles, etc.

      Personally, they should be more concerned about the trash, unsold veggies and fruit tossed out, etc that was never a concern with Blockbusters. In that regard, what is the alley like behind those restaurants and where does Whole Foods dispose of their trash?

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