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Filling Dominick’s out of city’s control

     Palos Heights officials would like few things more than to see a new retailer open in the vacant Dominick’s store at 127th Street and Ridgeland Avenue.

            The trouble is the parent company of Jewel-Osco is leasing the space, and its lease does not run out until March 31, 2022, according to Mayor Bob Straz.

Many Palos Heights residents have been asking what the city is doing to fill the empty Dominick’s store, Mayor Straz told the City Council at its meeting Tuesday. But he and other city officials can do little as long as Jewel’s parent company, Albertsons, continues to lease the space.

            Palos Heights City Administrator Dan Nisavic and Community Development Director Ken Busse were among leaders of more than a dozen suburbs who met last Thursday in Naperville to ask Albertsons to help them fill the empty Dominick’s stores in their localities.

            Albertsons merged with Safeway Inc., the owner of the Dominick’s chain, in January 2015, and took control over many of the shuttered Dominick’s sites, including the one in Palos Heights. The Dominick’s chain closed at the end of 2013.

            Officials in suburbs with empty Dominick’s stores believe that Albertsons pays the leases to keep other grocery stores out of those markets that would compete with a nearby Jewel, Straz indicated. The Palos Heights Jewel is a short drive west on 127th Street from the long-closed Dominick’s store, and many area residents miss the opportunity to shop at both.

            Mayor Straz has previously met with the president of Jewel to try to get the company to do something that would open the way for a new retailer to open in the Dominick’s site, he said.

            About 15 other suburbs face the same situation as does Palos Heights, Straz said. Municipal officials in those suburbs with empty Dominick’s stores would like to see Albertons stop extending its leases on those properties, so that new retailers, including grocery stores, can open and operate in them.

            Straz estimated that the closing of the Palos Heights Dominick’s has meant $100,000 a year in lost sales taxes the store used to generate for the city, when asked after the council meeting.

            Sales at the Jewel in Palos Heights, at 127th Street and Harlem Avenue, have gone up dramatically in the years since Dominick’s closed here, Straz added.

            Alderman Michael McGrogan (4th Ward) said that Albertsons is in some cases renewing its leases of empty Dominick’s stores, according to press accounts he read. “It’s not in the city’s control,” he said of the ability to fill the vacant Palos Heights Dominick’s store.

            He asked who owns the Indian Trails Shopping Center, where the shuttered Dominick’s is located.

            “Two individuals” own it, Straz replied.

            Meanwhile, Albertsons officials maintain they have been working to re-tenant, or return to the landlord, most of the former Dominick’s sites, and that many now house grocery stores, according to published reports.

            Also Tuesday, City Clerk Thomas Kantas said a public hearing will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 6:45 p.m. to discuss the city’s proposed 2016 tax levy.

  • Mayor Straz’s appointment of Steven Foertsch to the Palos Heights Public Library Board of Trustees to fill the vacancy of Pat Hunt for a three-year term expiring May 24, 2019 win unanimous approval by aldermen.
  • The council also granted a class A liquor license for AneMoNe Caffee, 6431 W. 127th St.

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