With no other business stepping up to fill the space, community members met Saturday to discuss what stores they would like to see come to their neighborhood.
Safeway Inc. announced in October it would shutter its 72 Dominick's locations in Illinois, which includes 15 stores in Chicago. Some of those stores have already been purchased by other grocery chains, like Mariano's and Jewel-Osco.
But the future of the South Shore Dominick's, located at 2101 E. 71st St., remains unknown.
The South Shore Planning Coalition held a meeting Saturday to discuss ideas for the space that could be passed on to city lawmakers.
Most neighborhood residents said they wanted the location to remain a grocery store and suggested everything from Whole Foods to Trader Joe's to a neighborhood co-op. Others wanted to know what progress has been made towards filling the space.
Hairston, whose 5th Ward contains the Dominick's, learned of the closing through media reports. Hairston has formed a "task force" with Ald. Natashia Homes (7th) and Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) to work on getting the space filled, Okoe said.
Hairston has also contacted a number of wholesale food suppliers — like Mariano's, Food 4 Less, Trader Joe's and Ultra Foods — to see if any were interested in the location but nothing concrete has come yet from those calls.
With the Dominick's store set to close its doors on December 28, it appears that the location will be empty for some period of time.
Val Free, the executive director of the South Shore Planning Coalition, said she does not want to see the space housing Dominick's, the anchor tenant of Jeffrey Plaza, remain vacant for long.
"A big space like that...it's not a good look for our community," Free said, adding she believes the closure will negatively impact other stores in the plaza as well as the surrounding area. "That store generated business for other businesses."
South Shore does have a Jewel-Osco and other discount grocery stores like Save-A-Lot and Aldi, but Free said residents cannot buy "high quality" food and produce in the neighborhood. She wants to see that change.
"We already have affordable food options," Free said. "But we don't have anything that specialized in organic or high-grade food, so we would like to see something like that for the conscious eater."
Earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a city task force aimed at marketing any Dominick's stores left vacant after this month. In addition to searching for businesses to fill the spaces across the city, the task force will also work to ensure access to fresh food and vegetables and suport workers affected by the closings, city officials said.