By Erick Johnson, Chicago Crusader
Residents in Woodlawn cheered as community leaders joined business executives in announcing plans to build a new Jewel-Osco supermarket, riding a wave of development that’s signaling the rebirth of a neighborhood that has long been a food desert.
With rows of fruits and vegetables on display shelves as a backdrop, Alderman Willie Cochran joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the MetroSquash Center, where they announced that a 48,000 square foot store would open on the northwest corner of 61st St. and Cottage Grove Ave.
Preservation of Affordable Housing currently owns the land, but will sell the land to developers DL3 and Terraco, who will build and lease the building to Jewel-Osco.
The new Jewel-Osco is expected to bring high quality, fresh food options and approximately 200 jobs to the Woodlawn community. The new store is expected to open in 2018.
The store is the latest in a wave of developments in the area, just minutes from the future home of the Obama Presidential Library.
Within a four-mile radius of the planned store is an Aldi’s and a Save-A-Lot supermarket in Woodlawn. Those stores however, are not as large and reputable as Jewel-Osco, and do not have as wide a selection of quality goods and produce as Jewel-Osco. Leaders on Monday, considered the new Jewel-Osco store as a much-needed investment in the neighborhood.
“Today we are taking the next major step in the renaissance and resurgence happening across Woodlawn,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This new grocery store will bring fresh food options to a community that is witnessing an unprecedented level of investment, growth and progress.”
The new Jewel-Osco will be a full service supermarket that will have a pharmacy- a relief for many residents who were forced to travel several miles after the Walgreens at 63rd and King Drive closed its doors after serving the community for over 50 years. The new Jewel-Osco store will have a deli counter and a department that serves hot meals.
“Jewel-Osco firmly believes in the importance of investing in communities,” said Mike Withers, President of Jewel-Osco. “The decision to build a new store in the Woodlawn neighborhood underscores our dedication to the residents and the City of Chicago.”
The Jewel-Osco supermarket will be the third major supermarket to open in a predominately Black neighborhood in a year, after Mariano’s and Whole Foods opened their doors last year in Bronzeville and Englewood respectively.
“We are improving the quality of life in the Woodlawn Washington Park community with the building of this facility” said Alderman Willie Cochran. This is not just about Woodlawn. It’s about supporting everyone around us.”
For Woodlawn, the new store is the latest in a surge of developments along Cottage Grove Avenue near 61st Street. Las week, developers broke ground on the Woodlawn Station, a $30 million mixed use affordable housing development at 63rd street and Cottage Grove. The 70-unit complex will be close to the 124-year-old Green Line station, which the mayor announced this week will get a new makeover. The Green Line is the CTA station that’s closet to the planned Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.
Woodlawn’s renaissance has been years in the making. In 2015, the historic Strand Hotel on 64th Street and Cottage opened as a mixed-used 66-unit affordable housing development. And for the first time in decades, Woodlawn experienced a slight drop in crime, according to the latest U.S. Census figures. Data also shows that young Black families are returning to the neighborhood.