HYDE PARK — The city is considering ways to buy or acquire a former South Shore Dominick's Finer Foods in an effort to speed up development of the property, sources close to the project said Monday.
The city would acquire Jeffery Plaza at 71st Street and Jeffery Boulevard, including the 65,000-square-foot former Dominick's storefront that has been vacant since Dec. 28, according to the plan, the source said.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) declined Monday to comment on the plans, but said it was unacceptable for South Shore to go without a major grocery store for nearly a year. She said the situation required the city to start considering new tactics.
"I don't want this to continue to be a blight on the community," Hairston said.
The owners of the mall said Monday they were unaware of the city's interest in buying the shopping center.
"It's amazing that they're thinking about buying something and they haven't talked to us," said George Gamel, controller and portfolio manager for Cannon Commercial, owner of the vacant grocery store.
He said the shopping center was not for sale and the company was still actively seeking a grocery store for the storefront.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The former Dominick’s at Jeffery Plaza has been the subject of intense wrangling since the grocer closed in late December.
In June, both the owner of the shopping center and the city said they believed they were close to a deal with Ultra Foods, which failed to materialize.
The deal with Ultra or another grocer reportedly was slowed by the high rent the owner Cannon Commercial was asking and the estimated $6 million in upgrades the store needed.
Many grocers approached by the city and the property owner had already written off the site.
In July, Bob Mariano, CEO of Mariano’s Fresh Market and a former CEO of Dominick’s, said the site was all wrong. He said the entrances were in the wrong spot, the parking lot was the wrong size and other structural problems made the location a problem for a grocery store.
Dominick’s parent company, Safeway, retains a lease on the site through May 2015.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: