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Trader Joe’s plan moves forward

Trader Joe’s says it needs an entrance from Emerson Street for its proposed store in the planned 1890 Maple Ave. apartment building.

And, based on discussion at Monday’s City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting, it appears the popular grocery chain will have no trouble getting its wish.

The planned development approved for the site last fall called for having all traffic enter through an alley off University Place.

Under the revised plan delivery trucks would still use that route, but store shoppers and building tenants in cars would enter and leave through a ramp at the west end of the building’s Emerson Street frontage using a 24-foot-wide curb cut.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, asked city staff to report at the council’s next meeting on any possible traffic congestion issues the new traffic plan might create. "I live near Jewel and Wild Oats, and those are big traffic generators," Wynne said. She suggested there might be a need for traffic control signals at the intersection of Emerson and Oak Avenue, a half block west of the building.

The project architect told aldermen the new entrance ramp on the building’s north face would be shielded by a translucent overhead door that would be kept open only during store hours. He said there would be no changes to the other sides of the planned 14-story rental apartment building.

Except that its enclosed within the building, the new design is somewhat similar to the ramp entrance to the existing Whole Foods market on Chicago Avenue.

The council is expected to vote on amendments to the planned development ordinance to incorporate the requested change at its next meeting on Monday, July 28. Alderman Anjana Hansen, 9th Ward, cast the only vote against having the revised ordinance drafted.

Michael Deegan, a real estate consultant for Trader Joe’s said the company has been looking at potential sites in Evanston for nearly eight years and has been working for 18 months with Carroll Properties, the developer of the 1890 Maple Ave. project.

He said Trader Joe’s signed a letter of intent about two weeks ago and that the parties are very close to reaching agreement on a lease for the site.

He said that easy access to parking is an essential requirement for grocery shoppers and he said that with the new access to the enclosed parking spaces the new site would meet the firm’s needs "extraordinarily well."

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