Oak Park kicks in $1.5M for grocery store renovation

The Oak Park Village Board voted Tuesday to contribute $1.5 million toward a $5.85 million project by Pete's Fresh Market to renovate and improve a former Dominick's store.

Pete's Fresh Market bought the 259 Lake Street property in January for about $6.25 million after Dominick's went out of business, according to information Pete's provided the village.

The village's contribution would go toward a façade renovation that the building "desperately needs," Oak Park Economic Development Corporation interim director John Hedges told the Village Board. The development corporation has worked to bring the grocer to the village.

The village's contribution also would help pay for a cafe-style addition in the southeast corner of the building, according to the company.

The company plans to gut and redesign the building's interior and make exterior improvements before an expected opening late this year, according to the documents.

The company cast the contribution as an investment. Pete's projects the village will take in about $280,000 per year in sales taxes from the store, plus property taxes. In 2012, Cook County assessed about $282,000 in property taxes at the site, according to Cook County treasurer's office figures. Pete's projects that number will increase.

The company compared Oak Park's contribution to contributions other municipalities have made to other Pete's stores. Willowbrook dedicated $5 million in TIF funds for a store, while Plainfield contributed 7 acres of land, according to information the company provided the village.

Other towns have contributed from $800,000 to $3 million to bring in other grocers such as Mariano's, Caputo's Market and ALDI, according to the Pete's summary.

Hedges said residents of the area near the former Dominick's told him they have been traveling outside the village to buy groceries — and taking their sales tax dollars with them. He said Pete's will be a step up from the former grocer there.

"Dominick's served us, but I think Pete's Fresh is going to be a whole new look for all of our grocery buyers, (and) it really brings the east side of Oak Park back into the realm of having a place locally to go shop for groceries," Hedges said.

Trustees noted the area is booming. They cited the Park District of Oak Park's recent completion of a new gymnastics center and renovation of Ridgeland Commons west of the grocery store, along with the opening of the Oak Park School of Rock, as examples.

"We're lucky to have you, and you're lucky to have us," Trustee Bob Tucker told a Pete's owner.

wjventeicher@tribune.com

Twitter @wesventeicher