65K square foot Jewel-Osco grocery in the Fulton River District.

Posted by ChicagoismynewBlog! on April 18, 2009

 Fulton’s greening continues with eco-Jewel
A new park and store boost burgeoning area


When Judith Mara moved into a loft building on Fulton Street just east of Halsted a dozen years ago, she said the neighborhood was rough and empty. You couldn’t get a cab in the area and there was a rat problem. Night clubs proliferated, and Mara recalled feeling uncomfortable at night.  

“It was not a good neighborhood,” she said.

Shopping choices were limited, too-there was a corner store selling basics, but no full-service grocery. For years, Mara drove once a week to Dominick’s at Roosevelt and Canal, and later to Dominick’s at Halsted and Madison. But with the opening of a new Jewel-Osco at 370 N. Desplaines in the Fulton River District, Mara could be shopping closer to home.

The new Jewel is a sleek 65,000-square-foot facility dressed in white with black accents that hovers 25 feet above Metra tracks that slice through the area. Two hundred people work at the store.

It is considered the company’s first green store, according to Miguel Alba, a spokesman. Jewel will seek Leadership in Energy and Environment certification, a measurement of a building’s environmental standards, for the store.

Green features include energy-efficient LEED lighting. The store’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system will adjust temperature levels based on the number people in the store. A green roof will prevent rain water runoff and reduce overall energy consumption.

Inside the store, with its high ceilings, rows of bright produce and stacks of food, small signs alert customers to the green features.

“This is a showcase store which we hope to continue to duplicate,” Alba said. Asked if the green features available in the Fulton River location will become standard at future Jewel stores, Alba said it depends on land and financing. The new store was built in part with tax increment financing dollars.

Larry Gage, president of the Fulton River District Association, said 3,500 to 4,000 residential units are located within a two-mile radius of the store. While the area had some grocery options reasonably close in River North and Greektown, Gage said he’s seeing more walking to the store.

“A majority of residents can just walk out to it …” he said. “It’s great-they can walk right up there. They don’t have to do a lot of driving.”

Still, some residents found the store’s selection disappointing. Mara wrote in an email that the organic options-especially for meat, fish, chicken and pork-were “tiny.”

“I had secret hopes that they would have tried harder to offer healthier, organic, local, non-manufactured … options,” she wrote.

The area around Kinzie and Desplaines has seen the completion of other big projects besides the new grocery this fall. A new, yet-to-be-named park built by Fifield Development and deeded over to the Chicago Park District was dedicated on Sept. 25. The park is at 353 N. Desplaines.

More space is expected to accompany the opening of the Trio condo project, currently under construction at 650 W. Wayman

* Thanks to Chicago Journal for the great article.  To check out the real deal, click here!



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