AVONDALE — A sprawling new Cermak Fresh Market grocery store opened in Avondale on Wednesday morning, ending what Mayor Rahm Emanuel called a "food desert" in the neighborhood.
The store, which is located at the corner of Diversey and Pulaski, is part of a major repurposing project of the former Marshall Field's warehouse.
The 70,000-square-foot grocery store is the first business to open as part of the redevelopment project known as The Fields.
Some of the first customers who flooded the store for the grand opening Wednesday morning were thrilled by the selection and with the prices.
"It's fantastic. I love it," said Evelyn Ruiz, who has lived in Hermosa for 30 years. "And cheap, too."
Alderman Milly Santiago (31st) was joined by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Emanuel, County Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) during the grand opening.
"For a lot of individuals in the surrounding neighborhood, they are going to get fresh fruits and meats and a great quality grocery store in their own neighborhood, ending a food desert in this area," Emanuel said.
While calling the area of a food desert might be a bit of a stretch as there is an Aldi two blocks away, the new Cermak Fresh Market does offer a greater selection of fresh food.
Aside from produce and traditional grocery-store sections, the shop has an indoor cafe and multiple options for prepared food.
"It's beautiful," Ruiz said. "This is a very big deal. I'm really happy. It's close, too."
Ines Gomez, a 63-year-old who lives about four blocks from the grocery store, walked there with her husband Wednesday morning.
Both of them are regular walkers, and look forward to making quick trips to the new store rather than driving to other grocers and having to stock up.
"It's easy for us," Gomez said. "We can walk every morning."
The warehouse at 4000 W. Diversey Ave. had been empty since Macy's left in 2008. Marshall Field's operated a warehouse there from 1964 through 2004, when Macy's took over.
Before Marshall Field's and Macy's, Olson Rug & Carpet used the building from 1928 through 1963.
Many of the speakers at the ribbon cutting including Preckwinkle and Santiago said they remembered going to Marshall Field's warehouse sales at the building.
"This is a beautiful grocery store that will bring much more than just groceries," Santiago said.
The former warehouse buildings cover close to one and a half million square feet.
Cermak Fresh Market is the anchor of the redevelopment, which will eventually include Newly Wed Foods, Studio41, Climate Guard and Deal Genius.
The project also includes 300,000 square feet of office space and 80 live-work units.
The second and third floors have been transformed into an indoor parking lot with 700 spaces.
The new grocery store created more than 200 new jobs.
"It's about time we bring some good economic development into the 31st Ward so that people are proud of being homeowners, so people can be proud of just walking a small distance to just do groceries and shopping and eat and just enjoy the 31st Ward," Santiago said.
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