Mariano’s Fresh Market replacing Klein Tools in Skokie
Bob Mariano, CEO of the Mariano's grocery chain, tours the store's 40 S. Halsted Street in Greektown in October 2012. I John H. White~Sun-Times
Updated: April 29, 2013 10:00AM
Mariano’s Fresh Market, the fast-growing premium grocery chain, is planning to open a new home on the northwest corner of Touhy Avenue and McCormick Boulevard in Skokie, village officials confirmed Wednesday.
The 75,000 square-foot store will occupy the large property where Klein Tools was located for decades. The last employees of the Klein Tools factory moved out in December, leaving a large and deteriorating industrial building across the street from the Lincolnwood Town Center shopping mall.
Skokie Village Manager Al Rigoni said the signing of a lease between Mariano’s and the Klein property’s developer, Centrum Partners LLC, is imminent.
The grocer’s plans call for tearing down the abandoned Klein Tools building and constructing a new store, with an opening date targeted for late 2014 or early 2015.
Skokie officials said that the village had been working with Mariano’s on a possible downtown location for nearly two years. A specific site in the heart of downtown was even identified, they said, but in the end, it was too small to accommodate the store, which has grown in popularity in a fairly short time.
Bringing the store to this location, though, has its own benefits. The village has been aiming to give some of its shrinking industrial sites more viable commercial uses. The Mariano’s store will sit a short distance away from Touhy Marketplace, which will be anchored by a prototype Walmart and is scheduled to begin construction this spring.
The store should also reap the benefits of being on the east end of Skokie, close to Evanston, Lincolnwood and Chicago, which provides a larger commercial base. Had Mariano’s moved to downtown Skokie, Rigoni said, it would have needed incentives paid for from Skokie’s downtown tax increment finance zone. But the project now calls for no financial aid from the village, although it helped Mariano’s acquire easements that will allow shoppers to access both Touhy and McCormick when entering or leaving the property.
Mayor George Van Dusen called the site a “perfect location” for Mariano’s.
“They will be able to draw from a large populace,” he said. “Any time you have a major (business) like Klein Tools close down, you want to get it redeveloped as soon as possible. This is a viable business and an exciting addition to Skokie.”
The village’s mission, he said, is to keep property taxes down, which depends on economic development and generating healthy sales tax revenue.
The first Mariano’s opened in July 2010 in Arlington Heights. Named after CEO Robert Mariano, the store was designed and built to deliver “the highest quality products from around the world and those produced locally to shoppers with unequaled service and hospitality,” according to the company.
There are now nine stores, most of them in Chicago, but also in Frankfort, Hoffman Estates, Palatine and Vernon Hills as well as Arlington Heights. The brand is a move by Wisconsin-based Roundy’s to move into the Illinois grocery market.
Mariano’s advertises that it has food from almost everywhere in the world. Its stores offer an Italian coffee shop serving gelato, a wood-fired pizza oven, a sit-down sushi bar and a full-service pharmacy.
Skokie leaders said the project will go through the village’s full open hearing process, probably beginning in late spring. But since the site is not close to residential properties and empties onto major streets that can handle heavy traffic, they don’t anticipate opposition from the community, they said.