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Logan Square Residents Push For Trader Joe's

By Victoria Johnson | January 4, 2013 6:41am | Updated on January 8, 2013 6:30am

LOGAN SQUARE — There have been wishes, hopes, maybe even some prayers, and now, a Facebook page.

Some Logan Square residents are pretty serious about getting a Trader Joe's grocery store, to the point they've started a grassroots movement to lure the specialty food company to the neighborhood.

Online forums often are filled with residents speculating about some new construction site, wondering if maybe, just maybe, the Trader Joe's was finally coming. A link to the store's location request page also recently began circulating.

But the movement went into a higher gear in November when resident Jon Adler put up a Facebook page seeking support for a Trader Joe's in Logan Square, specifically in an empty lot near California and Milwaukee avenues left bare when the old Max Gerber building was torn down in August.

"I thought the Facebook page might be a good way to kind of build a following, and just kind of put it into a number," the 34-year-old designer said.

The page has 222 "likes" so far.

One of those supporters is Erin Johnson, a 33-year-old executive assistant who has lived in the neighborhood for eight years.

"With the demolition of the Max Gerber building, I mean, that's a prime spot," she said. "It seems like our neighborhood would be a really good spot for that."

Sure, there are plenty of bodegas and small grocers around, but shoppers looking for a supermarket experience have to make the trek to the Strack & Van Til on Elston — a daunting trip for those dependent on the CTA or for bicyclists who may not love riding through the sketchy intersection of Western Avenue and Logan Boulevard under the Kennedy Expressway overpass.

Both Johnson and Adler have cars, but like many city residents, they eschew them whenever possible, and love the idea of having a larger store closer to the center of the neighborhood. And neither think it would be a death knell for the locally owned shops.

"I don't think they'd edge out the local businesses, because people would still go to them for different things," Johnson said, adding, "I just think that would be a really nice addition to the neighborhood."

Matthew Bailey, spokesman for Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), said the alderman's office has not been approached with any plans for the old Max Gerber lot.

"If they want, we'd love to have a Trader Joe's there, or a Starbucks, or whatever," he said. "We'd listen to anyone who'd be interested in purchasing the land and being a good community partner."

A spokeswoman for Trader Joe's did not immediately return calls seeking comment, but a customer relations representative did say there were no plans to open any new Trader Joe's in Chicago.