PORTAGE PARK — Nearby residents and workers expressed variations of shock, relief and frustration at last week's news Dollar Tree, 4070 N. Milwaukee Ave., will move to fill the former Family Fruit Market at 4118 N. Cicero Ave. in January.
The store's corporate higher-ups had finalized the decision last month to move into the bigger space, said Marcus Mcghee, the manager of the Portage Park outpost.
"We're all pretty happy about it, we're seeing it as a fresh start," Mcghee said. The new building means the store will expand its inventory and begin hiring new staff, he added.
But Edermina Casilla, who lives near the intersection of Cicero and Addison Street, said she saw the news as a letdown. Like some others, Casilla said she'd tied her hopes to the rumor that an Uncle Julio's Mexican restaurant would be taking the building.
"I really would like to see another restaurant out here, something that brings people out walking," Casilla said. "There's already a Family Dollar right over there [at 4828 W. Irving Park Road], and they don't even have good stuff. Better to have a CVS there, or something."
Others, like Raymundo Delgado, took to Facebook to air their irritation.
"Aldi would have been a better choice ... honestly we don't need a bigger dollar store," Delgado posted.
Earlier this year, in fact, representatives of Aldi were in talks to anchor the huge new retail center planned for the wedge of the Six Corners Shopping District between Milwaukee and Irving Park Road.
But even if the grocery store follows through on its plans, it wouldn't be soon enough for Norma Pagan, who said a larger Dollar Tree on Cicero would be "good, but not essential" like a new grocery store would be. The area has badly needed a supermarket since the Family Fruit Market closed earlier this year, she said.
"Dollar Tree is nice and everything, but it's not really what we need right now," Pagan said. "We need a good supermarket, somewhere elderly people can go so they don't have to walk all the way to Jewel [at 4660 W. Irving Park Road]."
Katie Hall, meanwhile, was excited about the new tenant on Cicero.
"It's better to have something there than nothing, for sure, especially on such a big street like this," said Hall, who switches buses at the crowded intersection during her daily commute. "And I would probably pick stuff up there a lot. ... I don't think I'd go if it were a restaurant."
But even those residents who were hoping for something different should remember that the move will make room for a new business at Dollar Tree's current location on Milwaukee, said Owen Brugh, chief of staff to Ald. John Arena (45th).
"The nice thing about this is that it frees up this nice big space there, so we can keep working to see that we have a nice quality tenant there," Brugh said.
In the meantime, Brugh added, plans are inching forward to build a Starbucks drive-thru on the east side of Cicero, across from Dollar Tree's future home. If all goes well, he added, construction on the coffee shop can begin as early as next spring.
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