Developer Bill Smith formally introduced his company's proposal to build a Trader Joe's at Division and Honore last night to a packed room at the LaSalle Magnet School. The presentation revealed a few tweaks to the proposal we revealed last week, including a design change and altered floor plan, however the evening's discussion was dominated by concerns about vehicle congestion, booze and safety. Many audience members in attendance expressed dissatisfaction with the plan indicating that residents of the nabe are prepared to fight a long battle over the construction of the specialty grocery store.
The presentation introduced a different building design, and instead of a sleek glass exterior the plan calls for a less exciting, though still contemporary look. Kevin Henning, President of Smithfield Construction indicated that the design could still change, and that the plans we received were very old and outdated. The plan also reveals that the store's footprint would contain 14,900 square feet of space, and includes two levels of parking with 77 spaces, making the total size of the store slightly bigger than what we had previously expected.
The plan calls for two-way traffic on Honore Street, which could present congestion issues according to several in attendance. Calls for a traffic study reverberated many times over, with Smithfield reps and Alderman Moreno agreeing to open the plan up for public input once the study is released. Concerns over other issues regarding garbage, alcohol sales and safety were also repeated. Several attendees had written responses prepared and made it clear to the development team that they did not want them setting up shop in their neighborhood, or at least right next to the school. Some homeowners were also riled up about the amount of truck traffic and potential pollution the store could introduce.
It was very clear that many who participated the meeting were skeptical of the proposal and the development team to begin with, after all, Smithfield had previously tried to redevelop the corner lot but fell through on the plans. And despite the city's desperate need for more grocers (and good ones at that), it appears that this development has a long way to go before breaking ground. Unless the Two Buck Chuck winos, Fair Trade coffee fans and Peanut Butter Puffins lovers miraculously come out of the woodwork, this TJ's can only look forward to a long battle to be built. If Wicker Park doesn't work out, there's always Logan Square.