SOUTH SHORE — Residents of South Shore are still wondering what will replace the shuttered Dominick's in Jeffery Plaza, the chain's only remaining location yet to be sold in the city.
And one member of the mayor's hand-picked task force charged with tackling the problem said Saturday community members should not wait around for an answer.
The Rev. Jeanette Wilson, of Rainbow PUSH, called her appointment to the task force a "paper title" and said the group has met twice since it was formed in December.
Wilson spoke Saturday afternoon during a meeting hosted by the Planning Coalition at the South Shore Cultural Center.
The South Shore Dominick's is the last unclaimed store in the city, one of 15 that closed its doors last December after the chain announced it was leaving the area.
Last week, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) told South Shore residents seven grocers had declined to buy the store. Hairston, whose ward includes Jeffery Plaza, cited four reasons the site has been slow to sell: amount of investment needed to improve the store, surrounding competition, community demographics and store profitability.
City officials have said any buyer will have to invest about $6 million to update the 65,000-square-foot store, and Dominick's' parent company Safeway has the space leased through May 2015.
But many community members at Saturday's meeting said a negative perception of the neighborhood is the reason the site remains vacant.
"All the grocers who say they can't come to the South Shore area, we can't get a straight answer on why," said the Rev. Scott Onque.
Onque said he is most concerned about how senior citizens and those without transportation in the area will get fresh fruit and vegetables.
"It's an insult to us that this is the last Dominick's left," Onque said. "Everyone can see the need."
Val Free, director of the Planning Coalition, said she is remaining optimistic about possibilities for the site, which anchors Jeffery Plaza.
Like many community members, Free said the store is key to further development along 71st Street, and she believes a quality grocery store would be a "magnet" for other business.
"Retail attracts retail," she said. "We need a store here to attract other quality retail so we can have a nice business corridor on 71st Street."
City officials have reached out to Whole Foods, Treasure Island, Ultra and Mariano's among other chains, and all have declined to lease the location.
Free said the lack of progress means the community will need to take charge in crafting its own "sales pitch."
Wilson delivered the same message to residents Saturday. She said it is up to the community to demand action and said the mayor's task force "doesn't have a timeline" when it comes to the Jeffery Plaza Dominick's.
"You have to put a visual on South Shore for the food industry people who don't come to South Shore," Wilson said. "If we make it a big deal, the alderman has to respond in a different way, the mayor has to respond in a different way."
The 15 Dominick’s in Chicago that closed are:
• Greektown, 1 N. Halsted St., converting to Whole Foods
• Streeterville, 255 E. Grand Ave., converting to Whole Foods
• Edgewater, 6009 N. Broadway Ave., converting to Whole Foods
• Lincoln Park, 959 W. Fullerton Ave., converting to Whole Foods
• McKinley Park, 3145 S. Ashland Ave., converting to Mariano’s Fresh Market
• Ukrainian Village, 2021 W. Chicago Ave., converting to Mariano’s Fresh Market
• Edgewater, 5201 N. Sheridan Road, converting to Mariano’s Fresh Market
• South Loop, 1340 S. Canal St., converting to a Jewel-Osco
• Lincoln Park, 2550 N. Clybourn Ave., converting to a Jewel Osco
• Lincoln Square, 5233 N. Lincoln Ave., converting to a Tony’s Finer Foods
• Rogers Park, 6623 N. Damen Ave., converting to a Cermak Fresh Market
• Rogers Park, 763 W. Howard St., converting to Jewel-Osco
• Old Town, 424 W. Division St., converting to Jewel-Osco
• South Shore, 2101 E. 71st St., no tenant identified
• Norwood Park, 6312 N. Nagle Ave., converting to Shop & Save Market
CONTRIBUTING: Sam Cholke