Neighborhoods can't live on fast food alone

When Andre Perrin and Amy Knapp moved from Wicker Park to a new mixed-income neighborhood on Chicago's Near West Side, they never imagined how much time they'd spend agitating over something as seemingly simple as a grocery store. Full Story
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Desert or Deserting Food

Melrose Park, IL

#1 Jul 10, 2009
Fioretti is not going to allow a non-union grocery like Pete's into his ward. And Pete's likes to own the dirt under his stores. If there's a landlord involved you can count Pete's out.

By the way, the Pete's in Little Village was originally a Delray Farms. What ever happened to that chain? They used to be all over the south side. Can it be that cheap cheeseburgers are more desired than cheap produce? Groceries are a business. They aren't a right. If the business can't make money they won't open, or stay open.
Vig is Life

Carpentersville, IL

#2 Jul 10, 2009
Why not push for a Walmart for the neighborhood? That would bring lots of jobs and Walmart has good produce/meat/groceries at good prices. Of course the union grocers don't want that, same as they don't want Super Targets (with grocery sections) in the city. It's all the unions fault. They don't want you to have jobs or groceries, income or food. They'd rather you stay poor and hungry if they can't skim something from the business.

Since: Aug 07

Evanston

#3 Jul 10, 2009
"On Thursday I called the alderman, Robert Fioretti. He said the situation is more complex than Perrin describes..."

C'mon Mary, where's the: "more complicated how?"

There is no obvious reason for the continued lack of a grocery store. There are plenty of middle class homeowners in that area now and the poor need to eat too.

Pardon me if I seem a bit cynical, but this is Chicago, so absent a better explanation that above my guess is that the issue is not actually complicated at all. It's about the empty palm of an alderman who has his hand out or alternatively it's because the hand is full of cash from SEIU and its ilk who don't want to see a non-union store built there.
Fioretti has abandoned us

United States

#4 Jul 10, 2009
About time. Grear article by the Tribune.
Funny how Fioretti dismisses the corruption and behind the scenes dealing with his cronies over Pete's vs Food 4 Worthless as "complex" but doesn't offer any detail as to what is really happening. Yet Mr. Perrin goes into great detail about the plight of the neighborhood.
If Fioretti were a good alderman, he would be out there waving the banner for Pete's, marching into whatever City Hall office is in charge of this mess and demanding "My people want Pete's and they want Pete's NOW!!!"
He will neve do this however. Fioretti has since abandoned his people. Maybe we need to repay the favor.
Fioretti has abandoned us

United States

#5 Jul 10, 2009
Mary, please do a full expose on Fioretti's corruption. Here are a few things that you can start with.

1. Fioretti's broken campaign promise to not take money from developers. He has taken plenty, even after being called out on it.

2. A complete investigation if any of those developers received support from Fioretti on zoning stuff.

3. A full investigation of the Rockwell Gardens crooked deal which Fioretti supported even though the local community was entirely against it. The developer is Elsie Higginbottom, who is bout as politically connected as you can get in this town. Elsie won - surprise, surprise. The first phase of Elsie's development included shoddy worksmanship and a poor setup of the mixed income part.

4. A rumor that Higginbottom threatened to run a crony against Fioretti in the next election if Fioretti did not support the development. At one meeting on the west side, some said that Fioretti told them so. Usually its the corrupt developers paying bribes to alderman, so this is a different twist.

5. A follow up on Western and Madison Story. Specifically, ask Fioretti why he wants Food 4 Less; we know he does. Also ask him to produce the "2000 signatures" that he said he received in favor of Food 4 Less. He refuses to show us the petition. Also try to find out what role the CDC is playing in this corruption.

6. Lastly, please investigate Fioretti's Community Advisory Council, which meets in secret to make zoning decisions without the public. Fioretti promised to be on the up and up and to stand up to developers. So far, he hasn't.

by

We who suffer the oppression of the corrupt
America the Feudal

Melrose Park, IL

#6 Jul 10, 2009
I'll bet Food 4 Less is willing to lease...which is one way for developers and their hangers-on to leech onto a business. That's why Pete's likes to own his properties, no 'friends-of' adding to his overhead.

A lease is forever and constantly rises in cost. The days of a neighborhood grocer investing in his building, property and business have been destroyed in Chicago by these aldermen and their developer friends who are firm believers in feudalism and keeping the serfs bowed and poor.
Mr Voter

Chicago, IL

#7 Jul 10, 2009
Il. Land of Corruption.......
The Complex

Chicago, IL

#8 Jul 10, 2009
I'm also well aware that Chicago, and also Fioretti, have less than stellar reputations but I'm not willing to be a cynic in this situation. Small actions will contribute to a greater good and a grocery store for us on the West Side.

So Mr. Fioretti, let's see these signatures and be prepared to get your a*$ voted out by people who care. Elsie, I've got your number.

We're not afraid of working hard to get what we want.
Mr Voter

Chicago, IL

#9 Jul 10, 2009
Vote them all out....to bad we cannot tar and feather them!

IL. Land of Corruption!
Mrs Peyton Manning

Batavia, IL

#10 Jul 10, 2009
Sadly, I've read interviews with many lower-income people who prefer eating out as compared to grocery shopping. They'd rather spend their (or more likely) the government's money on friend chicken and fries than fruits and veggies. This is part of the reason that so many Americans are overweight. I wish they could monitor what those on public assistance spend the money on. It irks me that my tax dollars are going toward a McDonalds Value meal.

Since: Aug 07

Evanston

#11 Jul 10, 2009
America the Feudal wrote:
I'll bet Food 4 Less is willing to lease...which is one way for developers and their hangers-on to leech onto a business. That's why Pete's likes to own his properties, no 'friends-of' adding to his overhead.
A lease is forever and constantly rises in cost. The days of a neighborhood grocer investing in his building, property and business have been destroyed in Chicago by these aldermen and their developer friends who are firm believers in feudalism and keeping the serfs bowed and poor.
Sorry ATF, I don't disagree with your thoughts on the Alderman and their 'friends' but you're wrong about the lease vs own economics.

I have been underwriting and managing commercial real estate loans for almost 10-years. None of the big retailers own their buildings. They sign long-term leases so the rent expense is defined and known, and spend their money to build out the interior. For Pete's to build their own building they would have to front a couple hundred grand minimum. They are much better off to sign a long-term lease, spend a bit extra on rent vs mortgage, and conserve cash.
Robert

Chicago, IL

#12 Jul 10, 2009
This is political, not economic. I worked on the west side for many years, and by driving 4 blocks west to Cicero, it was the land of plenty, groceries, produce, restaurants, deli,you name it. Why couldn't this happen on the Chicago side of the line?
I was also always puzzled by the Dominick's store by the Magic Johnson theaters on Roosevelt - it was huge, but there was absolutely no variety in the produce. They would have a 6 foot x 6 foot display of red delicious apples, another with golden delicious and same with granny smith. That's it. No fuji, macintosh, rome, gala, etc. Same with lettuce - just iceberg. And if you wanted something like snow peas? Artichoke? Forget it.
America the Feudal

United States

#13 Jul 10, 2009
Bankerdanny wrote:
<quoted text>
Sorry ATF, I don't disagree with your thoughts on the Alderman and their 'friends' but you're wrong about the lease vs own economics.
I have been underwriting and managing commercial real estate loans for almost 10-years. None of the big retailers own their buildings. They sign long-term leases so the rent expense is defined and known, and spend their money to build out the interior. For Pete's to build their own building they would have to front a couple hundred grand minimum. They are much better off to sign a long-term lease, spend a bit extra on rent vs mortgage, and conserve cash.
You're glossing over/ignoring the mortgage option. For the same money down, a grocery operator could OWN his property after 10 years of payments equal to or LESS than what he would pay towards a lease. And, after 10 years, no more payments meaning fixed cost savings that could be passed onto the customers.

Leases make sense only if you have zero credit rating. Pete's has good credit, and plenty of money for downpayments...because he owns, doesn't lease...he leases out to others in fact.

The holdup on this deal is getting the property into secret land trusts and then playing poker to determine who gets to share in the secret trust's proceeds forevermore.
America the Feudal

United States

#14 Jul 10, 2009
Oh, and the "Dominicks" family OWNED their stores, until they sold the chain to a bunch of suckers. They sold the operations but kept the real estate. The suckers are now leasing and not doing too well...

I am sooooo tired of MBA pseudo-science of business being shown up as wrong, wrong again, and wrong still more over and over and over...
Interested Observer

Highland Park, IL

#15 Jul 10, 2009
This story reminds me of all the stories about "famine" in places like Ethiopia. It always turns out that the reason people are starving has more to do with local power struggles than with actual lack of food. Welcome to the third world...
Abby

United States

#16 Jul 10, 2009
Have you asked Pete to open a store in your neighborhood? Who owns the land, perhaps s/he'll sell to Pete?

I love reading stories about locals taking matters into their own hands (young lawyer with a petition, vegetable seller, nuns selling pastries), it shows a can do spirit and simultaneously sheds light on pols who, for whatever reason, haven't been much help as yet.
r m kraus

Tallmadge, OH

#17 Jul 10, 2009
The same problem exists in Akron. In an attempt to improve the neighborhood, a somewhat shabby grocery, which most neighbors liked and patronized, was forced by the city to leave and the building was torn down. For several years now, the neighbors have begged for a grocery . . . . the mayor has made hollow promises that it will happen . . . . it hasn't happened yet.
CITY OWNS WEST SIDE LAND

United States

#18 Jul 10, 2009
There lies the problem. The city owns too much land on the west side and they want to funnel any development of that land through their connected (i.e. campaign contributing) developers. The only hope we the people have is having an honest alderman. Fioretti was supposed to be that alderman, but ever since he was elected he's taken dirty money from developers, cowtowed on the Rockwell sham of a deal, and is now holding back on giving us Pete's. How much more can we take. Someone please help us.
James Reyes

Chicago, IL

#19 Jul 10, 2009
It's nice they have a farmers market.Now they need to get some fruit peddlers that work everyday.If the peddlers make money,the supermarkets will follow.
Frankie Knuckles

Munster, IN

#20 Jul 10, 2009
If the vast majority of residents in the near west and west side want Pete's, why is there a push from City Hall to choose Food For Less. There was a town hall meeting and it was obvious that the neighborhood want's Pete's and for good reason. Pete's is more affordable, better variety, and healthier food. Food For Less is nothing but a glorified Aldi's with liquor, aisles and aisles of crappy processed foods. Cheetos and Cheez Whiz, yummy.

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