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Added Oct 24 2011

Looks like the city has identified 11 areas in the city, based on population density, that are in need of a grocery store and access to fresh food. Today, there are approximately 400,000 people living in food deserts, and Rahm wants to cut that number in half by the end of his first term. Emanuel supposedly presented this list to grocery CEOs in June. The Bronzeville site is 47th and State. See the article below for more info.

  • EveryBlock Becca Director of Community Management

    Thanks for sharing this, Erica. Very timely given your post a few weeks ago about Mariano's.

  • Bronze1 Bronzeville Futurist

    35th and Dearborn would be a great spot for an upscale grocery store like Trader's or Whole Foods. Bronzeville needs this badly to prop up real estate values. The marina itself will surely have potential affluent buyers give Bronzeville a second look. But, it needs some stores with top brand names to rope 'em in.

  • artistmac Fuller Park resident, videographer, illustrator

    Wisconsin-based grocer Roundy's had signed a letter of intent to build a store at 39th and State. But the project required three other tenants, a bank, a CVS Drug Store and a restaurant, who were on board at one point, but systematically pulled out as the economy tanked, killing the project at that location. Roundy's will still build in the 3rd Ward, but at 16th and Clark. Bronzeville is still without a full-service supermarket, and it will probably be years before that situation is rectified.

  • Michael Mooningham A Resident on a Mission

    I have a question - it seems that in the food desert there is an opportunity for an entrepreneur or company to build a full service supermarket but apparently companies have stayed away from these areas - what are some mitigating factors of why companies stay aware from these areas to start with?

  • P Life long resident

    Definitly agree. Fairplay is smelly

  • artistmac Fuller Park resident, videographer, illustrator

    The big chains certainly can't use Robert Taylor Homes and Stateway Gardens as an excuse; the last high-rise was torn down over 4 years ago. Jitters over the economy? Didn't stop Cermak Market from opening in Bridgeport, or Super Mas from opening in Back of the Yards, or Trader Joe's from opening in the South Loop, or Treasure Island from swooping in to the former Co-op's 55th Street store. Even the Co-op's unloved 47th St. store has been taken over by Mike's Market.

    Bronzeville has a reputation, warranted or unwarranted, that has salted the earth for any kind of retail development. Grocers, especially, should be falling all over themselves to be in an area where an entire segment of the population loads up with groceries the first five days of the month, like clockwork. All grocers need to do is look at the roaring success of the Fairplay and Aldi on 47th St. to see what they're letting slip through their fingers.

    Too bad Walgreen's isn't in the grocery store business; they'll go anywhere they smell dollars in the water.

    A possible solution: How about some of Bronzeville's larger churches pooling their collective resources and opening a Bronzeville supermarket? They're already in the grocery business, in a way, through their food pantries. Instead of giving it away, why not sell it, and create jobs in the process?

    By the way, anybody else remember when the strip mall at 51st and State had both a National Food Store (formerly a big Chicago chain) and a Walgreens? Yes, it was many, many years ago.

  • grandma 13-year Douglas resident

    The 2nd, 3rd & 4th Alderman are in Bronzeville TIF zones which have collected millions of TIF dollars. Maybe they could count the cost of coming together to purchase a grocery store franchise with our TIF that has a training program for managers and employees, decide on a location and hire qualified residents from Bronzeville. Afterall, the TIF is our property tax dollars. If IIT, Delasalle, McCormick Place and others can use this money, why not the citizens of Bronzeville. The Alderman could send out a survey to find out the kind of grocery stores we prefer, have the grocery chain investigate our area for the best spot for most profitability and ease of transportation, the city could donate the land for $1 like it helps developers and we could stop dreaming and start building. If sucessful, we could use this process to buy other franchises that are not fast-food and begin to hire the employable. Alderman Fioretti builds in the northern part of his ward using TIF and request that businesses hire from the community as a priority.

  • TwiggyB Working stiff

    The 'new' Walgreens on the southside are now offering food, much like when Target decided to add food to their stores. I was stunned to see food in a Walgreens while visiting one day about a month ago.

    Walgreens wants to be in those neighborhoods because it doesn't want CVS there. They'll do what it takes to stay.

  • Alex M. Jeff Park, web design, DJ, thinker

    I honestly hope it works, but I still keep imagining (in my cynicism) that we'll see the store managers speaking of how the residents bypass the fruits and veggies and still buy chips, soda, and candy bars. We'll see these places stop offering the fruits/veggies because they'll be throwing most of it out.

    I keep wondering if the lack of fresh groceries is due to crime/urban blight, or unhealthy choices people still make over healthy ones.

  • Totally agree Alex. Most of the people I have observed in this community have terrible dietary habits and observable poor health. I have long considered trying to open up an Integrative Medicine & Wellness practice in this area but actually have some of the utilization concerns that you mentioned. After all, grocery stores are businesses just like medical practices are. What I have learned is that it's impossie to legislate "healthy food choices". The only way is through education and exposure. I think it would be great if they had a healthy chef series in the area that was open to the neighboring public. This would be a fun way to program the way some of our neighbors eat. I'm skeptical as well.
    I can't stress enough how these fried toxic. Hicken shacks need to close down. I was pressured to stop by with my teenager for a rare "treat". We went to KFC. The place was empty, gross, they didn't have any food prepared so we has to wait for 20 min. to get our grease. I went into check on the status of our order as I had walked in. The work area was empty because the employees were all outside smoking! Harold's across the street is no better. How these places stay in business is beyond me!? These places would not have lasted 3 months in any other community. Come on Bronzville, we can do better!

  • grandma 13-year Douglas resident

    Not to change the subject but some communities also have dance studios. The one I visited recently had people of all ages and races taking classes together (Beginner, Advanced, Intermediate). The Classes were taught by performing arts professionals and everyone walking around looked amazingly fit. They had walk-in classes at $15.00 per session. A young hispaninc couple told me how much they were enjoying "Zumba", while another guest shared with me how she regretted that she stopped her modern dance classes and was going to resume them. I also saw a large group learning how to hip hop (Asian, Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, etc), but what really caught my fancy was the Beginner Ballet for adults. This class seemed very intense and when some of the students conquered a move, I saw them congratulting each other. Seniors, college students and high school students all seemed to enjoy each others presence. Also, as the students exited their classes, there was another intructor passing out brochures for his African Modern Dance class. My only regret is that I could not see into the "TAP' room. They seemd to be practicing non-stop for several hours. This class did not have windows, obviously a class for professionals. Again a dance studio would be great for our community! Oh I forgot, the studios "Pilates (Beginners, Intermediate & Advanced) This studio also had customers from Michgan taking Classes. Their teacher made it a fieldtrip with an overnight at hotel.

    Let's eat healthy and dance our way to good health!

  • Erica in Bronzeville 12 yrs in Bronzeville; Ready for a Brighter Day

    Alex M. and JRMD, if stores with healthy food options entered into Bronzeville, would you patronize them? My guess is that you would, and there are plenty of other ppl in B'ville who would as well. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face here. I can attest to this...sometimes it's simply easier to go the greasy spoon that is around the corner than to drive a distance and look for something a lot more healthy. And an occassional trip to Harold's, KFC, Popeyes, Sharks, or J&J Fish is not a bad thing. But I do believe if healthier food options, which are appetizing and tasty to most who try them, are introduced in the community, folks would try them out frequently. But you can't complain about ppl not being healthy and be reluctant about introducing healthier food options in the community, which you can also benefit from having nearby. Give B'ville a chance pls, neighbors!

  • Alex M. Jeff Park, web design, DJ, thinker

    I don't live in Bronzeville.

    My point is that if there was a demand for fruits and vegetables, when why didn't any of the liquor stores or convenience stores bother to try to meet that demand. Capitalism ya know?

    I said it in my earlier reply, I HONESTLY HOPE I END UP WRONG. I hope the stuff flies off the shelves and residents choose "healthy" over "junkfood". My only concern is based on the past, will we see the candy and chip aisles empty out while the fruits and veggies rot?

    Only time is going to tell, but if I unfortunately end up right, then we as a society really then need to explore how to nudge people into eating healthy. I liked the notions of local community things.

    Like I said, I hope I am wrong in this. I hope the stuff sells and it's just a question of availability. I hope to see kids eating apple slices over Chili Cheese Fritos.

  • Erica,
    I did not mean to suggest I was "reluctant" to bring these types of stores to the area. If you have been following my other posts here and on other topics, you would know that I would be the first one there! If it were up to me, there would be a WF in the heart of this neighborhood. Trader Joe's as well! I think Alex's point is that the demographic and reputation of the area has been a hindrance to this business decision being made by the corporate powers that be.If there was a market here for such, the demand would be getting addressed. I'm oK with a smaller scale solution like Mariano's. Did you ever wonder why they never tried to come here? I think it's really sad:(

  • Erica in Bronzeville 12 yrs in Bronzeville; Ready for a Brighter Day

    Glad we're all on the same page. Yes, the area suffers from a poor reputation for sure. JRMD, since you live in the area, I'd love your contact information. I can be reached at I am working with a group of residents to generate strategy to bring businesses to B'ville, and I think you have the interest/passion to help. As for the WF, I believe they are looking seriously at Hyde Park, which make sense to me.

  • Sure Erica! My email is You can also chat with me on here. Once we connect, I can give you my Twitter info. if you like:) Have a nice weekend!

  • Many forget the reason why these areas are food deserts, many stores moved out because of the high theft rates that was known to happen in these areas.
    Stores could not afford to do business, if this fact has changed then there is hope that the businesses will stay and benefit to community.

  • Erica in Bronzeville 12 yrs in Bronzeville; Ready for a Brighter Day

    Thanks Butterfly. Do you reside in Bronzeville or in one of the 11 identified food deserts? Are you interested in helping with attracting businesses to the neighborhood. I would appreciate any help that you have to offer.

  • artistmac Fuller Park resident, videographer, illustrator

    Butterfly, there's no way retailers, grocery or otherwise, can complain about cutthroat competition in this economy when they refuse to come into unserved areas like Bronzeville where they would have virtually none. If it's theft they're worried about, let them put up security cameras and post a guard at the door. The time for excuses is over.

    Oh, and they will need to send a representative to court each and every time theft cases for their stores come up on the docket at 51st and Wentworth. Zero tolerance is the only way.

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