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Mariano's, New Apartments to Create 500 Temporary and Permanent Jobs

Construction could begin in days on a Mariano's Fresh Market, L.A. Fitness and Sears Auto Center.

About 500 jobs are coming to Lincoln Square through city approval of the Ravenswood Station redevelopment, which includes a Mariano’s Fresh Market.  

The grocery store, along with an L.A. Fitness and Sears Auto Center, will be located at the corner of Ravenswood and Lawrence avenues in a lot that has sat empty for the last 40 years.

The development runs parallel to the construction of a new Ravenswood Metra Station, 150 residential apartments and streetscape beautification on Lawrence.

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The City Council approved the project Thursday by a 48-1 vote after traveling through the finance and zoning committees. Ward 45 Ald. John Arena cast the lone no vote and one alderman was absent.

Developers are finalizing city permits and closing construction loans, said Bill Higgins, the program coordinator for Ward 47. More than 500 temporary and permanent jobs will come with the project, slated for opening in December 2013.

Ward 47 Ald. Ameya Pawar addressed nearly 50 residents at a community meeting Thursday night at McPherson Elementary School.

While most residents expressed gratitude about the project’s approval, some were concerned about the elimination of commuter parking for the Ravenswood Metra Station.

Metra had a month-to-month contract with Sears for 55 commuter parking spots on the lot. The company decided not to continue with the new development, Pawar said. Ravenswood Metra commuters will have to find a new place to park when construction starts.

“I’m not going to hold up a $42 million commercial development and a $20 million-plus residential development and 500-plus jobs for 55 spots,” Pawar said, adding that he didn’t take pleasure in inconveniencing riders.

Higgins asked developers about renting spots on the Mariano’s rooftop parking lot, but they refused. He said he’d continue working on options for parking, but couldn’t make any promises.

Pawar said the Sears location, which now pays $120,000 in property taxes, would generate about $1.2 million in property taxes annually. Another $800,000 annually would come from sales tax.

Pawar hopes the added revenue will raise property values, a thought shared by Ravenswood resident Erin Stewart.

Stewart and her husband attended the meeting in support of the project.

“I’m pretty glad we’re getting new retail and we need a grocery store in the neighborhood,” she said.

The City of Chicago granted the project $4.5 million in Tax Increment Financing, which is about 10 percent of the building cost. The proposal received unanimous approval from the finance committee on Wednesday.

With construction starting in days, representatives from the architects designing the project were at the meeting to answer questions about construction.

Jeff Woll, with Antunovich Associates architects, said the Mariano’s would be about 80,000 square feet, slightly larger than the new location in the West Loop. The grocery store would take up the second floor, with a 40,000 square-foot L.A. Fitness and 10,000 square-foot Sears on the ground level. More than 300 parking spots will be constructed on the roof of the building.

Woll said construction would run Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Noisy work will start at 8 a.m. and overtime would only be as necessary.

Some curbside closure will occur, but Woll said most of the trucks and construction will be staged on the back of the property.

By the end of construction, Pawar said Lawrence Avenue would serve as a connection between Lincoln Square and Andersonville.

“When all of this is done, you’re going to see a total and complete transformation of Lawrence Avenue,” he said.

Other Lawrence Avenue Projects:

150 New Apartments

  • Construction will begin in the spring.
  • The $20 million residential development will be completed in two phases, one approximately in September and the other in 2014.

Lawrence Avenue Streetscape

  • The Chicago Department of Transportation is replacing a 130-year-old water main on the street, with expected completion in mid-December.
  • In April, construction will begin on the streetscape beautification. Lawrence will go from four to three lanes and add a bike lane, widened sidewalks and pedestrian islands.
  • Pawar said traffic would move slower, but more smoothly.
  • Phase 1 will go from Western to Damen on Lawrence and Phase 2 will include Damen to Clark avenues.
  • Expected completion for the project is 2014.
  • More specifications will come closer to groundbreaking.

Ravenswood Metra Station

  • Construction on a new Metra station began in September.
  • The complete $225 million-project includes 11 bridges, new track and the Ravenswood Metra Station and is slated for completion in 2019.

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