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Grocery store will anchor Cicero/111th TIF district

Mariano's may yield $1.5M annually in sales and property tax dollars

By Laura Bollin

Fresh produce, flowers, sushi and oyster bars, salads, fresh meat and seafood are making their way to Oak Lawn.

The village on Tuesday announced that Mariano's Fresh Market will build a store in the retail development at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue. The 70,000-square-feet grocery store will anchor the development in the 111th and Cicero Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district.

Oak Lawn Mayor Dave Heilmann delivered the news via a slideshow that including a graphic reading: "Breaking news: Mariano's coming to Oak Lawn."

"I think this is the worst-kept secret in the village," Heilmann said. "This is a terrific store."

Many residents had desired a Trader Joe's to come to the development, and Mariano's is a similar store, Heilmann said. The building will be at the northeast corner of the development, and will face 111th Street.

"Having a store like this fills a need, and brings hundreds of jobs to Oak Lawn," Heilmann said.

The mayor said 65 people will be employed on the site each day during construction. The store will attract other retailers to the site, he added.

"We've slogged through difficult times, and this is extremely positive," said Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen.

The site will be developed over the next few years, Deetjen said. The village owns the land and is leasing the property to real estate developer Hamilton Partners, he added.

"We own the dirt," Deetjen said. "We are giving Hamilton Partners the right to build on top of that land - retail and commercial establishments. From there, Hamilton Partners will enter into subleases with the tenants."

Heilmann said Mariano's will generate as much as $1 million per week and $50 million per year in sales. The Milwaukeebased company was founded by Robert Mariano, with the first store in Illinois built in Arlington Heights. The Oak Lawn store will be the company's 10th store in Illinois.

Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan said she has visited several Mariano's stores and met CEO Bob Mariano, and described him as a "strong businessman."

"He is a hands-on person," Quinlan said. "He personally goes into his stores. We wanted to bring in the best of the best, and we found that in Mariano's."

Hamilton Partners will develop 22.3 acres in the 40-acre TIF district. The total retail space in the development will be between 200,000 and 250,000 square feet. The village will not be making any of its own improvements in the district - all development will be through Hamilton Partners.

The village agreed to let Hamilton Partners bring in tenants at a meeting in August. At that meeting, Trustee Tom Phelan said the village could see between $1 and $1.5 million in combined annual retail and property sales tax revenues. Trustees have in executive session seen a design of what the redevelopment site might look like. Phelan said plans include a park at the corner of 111th Street and Cicero Avenue, and a pond traversed by a bridge.

Deetjen expects Mariano's to employ 400 people, and said the development as a whole will create "well over 1,200 jobs." No other tenants for the TIF district have been identified at this time.

"The property, which has been there for 37 years, has deteriorated over time," Deetjen said. "This is a very, very exciting time for the village."

The village created the TIF district in 2006 and owns Edgar Funeral Home, 10900 S. Cicero Ave.; the Kmart/Dominick's property; Mansard Court, 11004 S. Cicero Ave.; the space formerly occupied by Oak Lawn Harley Davidson, 11040 S. Cicero Ave.; and Interstate Muffler, 4800 W. 111th St. The Kmart and Harley Davidson properties have been demolished, and Edgar Funeral Home has been leased to Midwest Orthopedics.

The TIF district's boundaries are Cicero Avenue to the east, 111th Street to the south and Leamington Avenue to the west. The northern boundary is Wolfe Wildlife Refuge on the west and the Cloister Condominiums on the east.