By Anna Lothson
Oak Park and River Forest will be without their Dominick's come early 2014, according to an announcement Thursday from Safeway Inc, which operates 72 stores in the Chicago area.
A handful of the stores have already been sold to New Albertsons, Inc., which operates Jewel-Osco grocery stores. It's unknown at this point what company may take over the Oak Park spot, but Loretta Daly, the village's business manager, said she has been aware for a few months that Dominick's could be closing.
"This was pretty well known in the [grocery industry] market," Daly said. While she isn't at liberty to disclose what operators the village has been in touch with, Daly said there have been conversations with groups that have shown interest in bringing another grocery store to the Lake Street location.
The Oak Park store has been in business since the late 1980s and replaced a large and obsolete bus barn operated by West Towns Bus Company.
"There is significant recognition in the food market industry that that location is highly desirable. It's not an opportunity that comes along often," Daly said. "Our hopes and desire it that it remains a food establishment."
Daly assured the village will "work aggressively" with anyone looking to take over the location.
The River Forest Dominick's is among the chain's oldest and smallest locations. Situated on North Avenue it has been the subject of rumored closings for many years though the Journal reported in January 2012 that a five-year lease extension had just been signed.
In various planning processes over the years, the village of River Forest has considered the site as a likely redevelopment location.
In its announcement Thursday, Safeway Inc. revealed that the decision to exit the Chicago market came at the end of the third quarter. Dominick's incurred losses before income taxes of $13.7 million in the third quarter of 2013 and $35.2 million in the first 36 weeks of 2013.
It was cited in multiple media reports that the decisions to leave the Chicago market is "consistent with Safeway's priority of maximizing shareholder value," according to Robert Edwards, President and CEO of the company.
Check back with OakPark.com as this story develops.
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