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Sauganash Whole Foods Buys Parking Lot in Effort to End Snarled Traffic

SAUGANASH — Officials with Whole Foods Market Sauganash said Wednesday they bought the parking lot north of the store, and plan to renovate it to create a community gathering space and ease a traffic crunch, officials said.

Shoppers at Whole Foods Market in Sauganash frequently complain that the simple act of pulling into the store's parking lot and finding a space can be a harrowing experience, said Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th).

Whole Foods Market Sauganash

Cars waiting to find a premium spot right outside the store's front door at 6020 N. Cicero Ave. can cause traffic to back up onto Cicero Avenue. Most of the store's parking spots are underground and on a gravel-covered parcel once slated to become a six-story condominium building that was never built.

Michael Sweatt, Whole Foods Market's executive construction coordinator, said the purchase was designed to benefit both the store's shoppers and Sauganash residents.

Heather Cherone explains why this is a big deal for Whole Foods:

Initial plans — which have yet to be approved by city officials — call for a covered walkway and lush landscaping in keeping with the rest of Sauganash, Sweatt said.

An additional driveway would be added at the north end of the property, to give shoppers coming from Cicero Avenue another way to reach the store and grab some organic kale for dinner.

At Laurino's request, the parking spaces will be nine-feet wide to accommodate SUVs, officials said.

Whole Foods Market Sauganash

In addition to space for community events, such as farmers markets, family movie nights and barbecues, the renovated parking lot is expected to be environmentally sensitive with lighting powered by solar panels, permeable bricks along the walkway and chargers for electric cars.

The Whole Foods Market Sauganash was built in 2006 near Cicero and Peterson avenues, with 61 condominiums above the store. A plan to build another 75 condos just north of the store fell apart in 2007 as the housing market crashed.

The project is expected to be completed in the fall, officials said.

Whole Foods Market Sauganash

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