LOGAN SQUARE — For months, neighbors have been peering inside the building at 2746 N. Milwaukee Ave., wondering when Dill Pickle Food Co-Op will open its highly anticipated new grocery store.
More than 100 people, including neighbors, co-op members and local elected officials, finally got a look inside the 10,000-square-foot building Monday morning for an official groundbreaking ceremony.
After securing a $1.7 million loan from the Chicago Community Loan Fund, the co-op is entering the final phase of construction, which should take four to five months. It's aiming for a late August opening.
Neighbors view renderings of the store, expected to open in late August. [All photos DNAinfo/Mina Bloom]
At the ceremony, 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and state Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Logan Square) both cheered the expansion. The co-op, they said, sets itself apart from traditional grocery stores because of its membership structure. The co-op is owned and governed by its members. As such, much of the project was funded by members.
"Multinational corporations open up in different communities across the city of Chicago every day. When they open up in a community, they're not often looking to build community. They're looking for ways to extract profit," Rosa said. "The beautiful thing about Dill Pickle is that they're looking to build community."
A member since 2011, Guzzardi echoed Rosa's remarks: "We're all in this together. We're all working together to make this store a place that serves the entire community. It's a beautiful model ... I believe in it very deeply."
Dill Pickle's new store, just steps from the Blue Line's Spaulding stop, will be the neighborhood's first "large footprint" grocery store, as Guzzardi put it, onthe Milwaukee Avenue corridor since Sunrise Fresh Market, which closed last summer.
The co-op has grown immensely since its birth in 2005. In its first fiscal year of operation, the original store, 3039 W. Fullerton Ave., grossed $1.3 million in sales, which was nearly twice what the team had projected it would gross by its fifth year.
Plans to build a much larger grocery store have been in the works since 2011. The co-op made a formal announcement in 2015, but construction was pushed back a few times as the team tried to raise more money.
On Monday, the store, which is six times the size of its original location, was bare with cement floors, but once construction is complete, shoppers can expect fresh vegetables, fruits and other items from local farms, a deli, a beer and wine selection and a community room.
The expansion also means lower prices, which was hailed as "important" by Lucy Gomez, health outreach director for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.
"It's no secret that some of the prices have prevented some from shopping at the co-op," Gomez said. "It's really exciting that the prices are going to be able to come down a little bit so that we can bring more of the people who live in the community."
The ceremony drew residents from near and far, including Alan McGhee, 63, a lifelong Norwood Park resident.
"It's a place to get good food. I happen to be vegan, so not everything is for me, but the stuff that is ... I like that I can get it here," said McGhee, who travels to Logan Square to shop at the original location. "And seeing the money stay here rather than, as several people mentioned, the big corporations sucking us dry."
Local elected officials and co-op members planted the seeds for the new store Monday morning.
Mary Meyer, founder of Rogers Park Food Co-Op, said she was inspired by the massive space. She and fellow organizers are planning to open their own co-op on the Far North Side.
"I think it's going to be tremendous when it opens because they have a deli, community space, and more room for fresh food," she said of Dill Pickle's new store.