Cary asking for Jewel's long-term plans

CARY – Village officials are looking for assurances that the town's main grocery store stays in place for the long-term.

Village staff this week spoke with Jewel-Osco officials about their location at Cary Square, which is about 3 miles from the location Jewel plans to open in Fox River Grove.

That location, a former Dominick's, is scheduled to open during the summer.

In an email statement to the Northwest Herald, Jewel Communications Manager Allison Sperling said the company plans to keep the Cary location open.

"We plan on operating both the Cary as well as the new Fox River Grove location," Sperling said. "We have numerous locations that are that close in proximity to each other and both operate successfully."

Sperling however would not comment on the company's lease situation in Cary.

According to village officials, Jewel has an option – which it needs to make a decision on by September – on whether to extend its stay an additional five years.

The Cary Square shopping center is managed by Mid-America management group. A phone call to the group was not returned.

Director of Community and Economic Development Chris Stilling told the Village Board on Tuesday that Jewel has long-term control over what happens at the site.

Stilling said he believes Jewel will exercise its option to extend its lease in Cary in an effort to control the market share.

"I don't necessarily think it's a concern," Stilling said. "It's [about] being informed and making sure we're up to speed as to the current status as to what are the long-term plans with the changing grocery market, with the addition of a store in the neighboring town."

"It's a well-performing store," Stilling added. "We're just putting ourselves in a position to make sure we have all the facts."

Stilling added the chain is always re-evaluating stores and their performances, especially as there is new management of Jewel, which is owned by parent company New Albertson's.

The Cary location is 48,000 square feet, but Jewel's "sweet spot" for stores is between 55,000 and 60,000 square feet, Stilling said.

Village President Mark Kownick said expanding the store however might not be an option. The disturbance it would cause to the daily operations and the costs involved might make it more cost effective to just open a new location.

The village wants to be prepared to help Jewel if it wants to make improvements to the store to help encourage them to stay for the long-term.

Stilling gave the example moving building permits though quickly or helping with zoning questions.

Village Administrator Chris Clark gave the example of sales tax rebates, but did not advocate for one at Tuesday's Village Board meeting.

Trustee Rick Dudek said he is concerned Jewel might decide to close the location in the future.

"Re-upping for the long term only benefits the landlord. They close the store, we lose a couple hundreds thousand dollars in sales tax," Dudek said. "All we have here is corporate Jewel saying we want to be good corporate citizens ... and we're going to take this extension of five years and then once Fox River Grove is up and established making their counts, they'll go 'why do we keep this store open?'"

Dudek added if Jewel did not have control over the property long-term, the village would probably be able to find another grocery store to come in.

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