RIVER NORTH — When longtime Marina City residents Ty and Rita Ingo moved into the Downtown towers, they were drawn to the idea of a "mini-city" that was touted in the mid-1960s: The residence bragged that its bowling alley, skating rink, grocery store and other built-in amenities promised to make life in the building a breeze.
The skating rink quickly disappeared, and about a year ago the grocery store did, too. But the Ingos said they weren't terribly sad to see it go.
"It was convenient for getting tonic water or a bar of soap," Rita Ingo said, but its only benefit was convenience.
"We really did our shopping at Jewel," Ty Ingo said. "The prices were almost double [at Marina City] for what we could get."
A new grocery store hopes to win residents like the Ingos over. Set to open in 2015, the brothers behind three deli-style stores in the South Loop called South Loop Market, around since 2009, will open their fourth location in the vacant storefront.
Co-owner Rami Hammad said a retail broker, who happened to be a regular at one of the markets, came in one day early this year and mentioned that Marina City might be ideal for expansion. Hammad and his brother ran with it.
"It's a beautiful layout [at Marina City], a lot to work with," he said.
Hammad is promising a market with fresh, organic food, hundreds of available wines and specialty beers and also a continuation of the South Loop Market's partnership with Boar's Head Deli of New York.
Hammad says the idea of putting markets inside apartment and condo complexes has been around for years, but he says the key is "doing it right and doing it presentabl[y]."
He said the new market will have to step up its game to compete against nearby Walgreens and CVS stores, which he thinks helped spell the doom for the previous Marina City market.
"We're going to be like an upscale deli you'd see in New York," he said.
Hammad said he and his brother haven't settled on a name yet, but he's hoping for a store opening early next year.
"It's gonna be a little bit of everything," he says, "but not your typical gas station convenience store."
Ty Ingo called the news "outstanding.
"I think that's just what is needed here," he said. "People would love that."
The Hammads have yet to announce an opening date for the store, but said they expect to open sometime next year.
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