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The [Thursday] Papers

"On Wednesday, dreary weather didn't keep away the thousands of people who turned out for the grand opening of the Whole Foods at the corner of 63rd and Halsted streets [in Englewood]," Natalie Moore reports for WBEZ.

"Some customers showed up before sunrise, and a long line formed outside the grocer's door most of the day. In the parking lot, Kanye West and John Coltrane blasted as people tasted free samples.

"In a neighborhood with 21 percent unemployment, the persistent question has been how will residents afford to shop at the upscale Whole Foods. Robb said costs are lower because the rent is cheaper.

"At the grand opening, a cursory glance showed that made-to-order sandwiches that cost $8 in other Whole Foods are $6 in Englewood. The store is also about half the size of a typical Whole Foods."

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Natalie Moore has been on this story since day one, and is always worth paying attention to anyway, so go read the whole thing.

(Also, see her tweets - memorialized on the Beachwood! - from when the project was first announced. Fascinating.)

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Interesting (and important) points from Moore's piece:

* "Whole Foods plans to build a cooking education center across the street from its Englewood location."

* "Thirty-five South Side vendors have their products in the store - from energy snacks to greens to candles to soaps."

* "Leon Walker, of DL3, is the developer of Englewood Square, which in addition to Whole Foods has a Starbucks and upcoming Chipotle. Walker, who is black, said African-American construction companies worked on the project."

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"After community meetings with residents, Whole Foods identified about 30 staple items for a typical Englewood shopping cart that would be sold at a much lower price than at other Whole Foods - and even lower than some competitors," the Tribune reports.

This seems to contradict the argument many businesses make about not investing in underserved communities because costs are (purportedly) higher.

Also:

* "About one-third of the produce is sold by the 'each' instead of by the pound - another way of offering healthy food for more affordable prices . . . As one example, bananas were selling for 19 cents each."

* "The $20 million Englewood Square project, which also features Starbucks and, soon, Chipotle as tenants, received about $10.7 million in city subsidies."

I'm not a fan of these subsidies - half the project, which involves tremendously profitable corporations - but at least they're going to the right neighborhood, which seems like a rarity.

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"[Whole Foods co-CEO Walter] Robb said he particularly owed gratitude to the late Ald. Joanne Thompson, who shepherded the project past community hurdles," the Sun-Times reports.

"A bronze bust of Thompson was commissioned by Whole Foods for a place of honor in the store's community room."

Yeah, this seems like a bit much, but whatevs.

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"You might want to skip your local Whole Foods and head to Englewood the next time you go grocery shopping," DNAinfo Chicago suggests after doing some comparison shopping (they have a small chart of items, mostly from the dairy departments).

"Compared to prices at the Whole Foods' Lincoln Park location at 1550 N. Kingsbury St., prices on many Englewood Whole Foods items were far cheaper."

Will people on the North Side hop in their cars and shop in Englewood to save a few bucks? What would be the consequences of that, if any?

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"'I want you all to give yourselves a hand for making this possible, for never giving in and never giving up to the cynics who said it never was possible, that it couldn't happen in Englewood,' Emanuel said from a stage in the grocery store's parking lot."

I'm not sure anyone said it wasn't possible, but when the plans were first announced, they were scrutinized as they should be: Was this really going to create jobs for neighborhood folk? Would this be the game-changer it was advertised as by Rahm and city officials? Would local residents be able to afford the store nicknamed Whole Paycheck? There was nothing cynical about those questions, and they still ultimately remain. I've been persuaded that this development is good for Englewood, but I hate the subsidy game and I hate the politics of Rahm declaring victory and moving on instead of investing deeply in neighborhoods like this that need it. The Lucas Museum, for example, might have looked good around 63rd and Halsted. And that $10 million taxpayer subsidy? Robeson High School sure could have used it. So who's the cynic, Rahm?

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"Emanuel, a millionaire from his brief stint as an investment banker following his time in the Clinton White House, offered Robb some initial feedback on his purchase: '$5.62,' noted a joking Emanuel, holding up the smoothie. 'It's a little pricey.'"

Ahem.

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What I wrote three years ago:

"[T]he store isn't scheduled to open until 2016 - so far off that the Cubs' top prospects aren't expected to arrive in the big leagues until just about then."

-

Three years ago, I also wrote a Syria briefing along with a passage about how media coverage of the Whole Foods announcement was anything but cynical - at least not in the way Rahm alleges.

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FYI: The Whole Foods Englewood website.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Fifty Percent Of The Time, It Fails Every Time.

The NFL Joins The Data Revolution
Catching up with baseball and basketball through chips in footballs and shoulder pads.

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BeachBook

Undocumented Students Benefit The Most From Free City Colleges Program.

*

Man Accused Of Simpsons Graffiti Had Phone Illegally Searched, Lawyer Argues.

No 'Doh!' in the headline?

*

Tecate Beer Wall.

This is what it's all about, people. (I'm told this ran during Monday night's presidential debate.)

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Apprentass 4. They made at least 4 of them.

*

Name that columnist!

*

By all means, let's give this man the nuclear codes.

*

*

John Kass raised his hand from his Tribune Tower office. He's not worried.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Towering.



Permalink

Posted on September 29, 2016


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