Stephanie Dremonas, Anan Abu-Taleb, Jim Fasano, the developer, Vicki Scaman, John Lynch and Chibuike Enyia, during the ground breaking of Pete’s on Friday, December 17 in Oak Park. | Shanel Romain

Ground has been broken on the long-anticipated second Oak Park location of Pete’s Fresh Market. Stephanie Dremonas, daughter of Pete’s co-founder Jimmy Dremonas, was joined by former Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb and current Village President Vicki Scaman in a ceremonial groundbreaking last Wednesday on the corner of Madison Street and South Euclid Avenue, the site of the future grocery store.

While prep work continues on the site, actual construction will not begin until spring.

“Madison Street needs and deserves the attention that this development will bring – a more walkable, shoppable, thriving neighborhood that will be able to support the businesses that exist today,” said Scaman.

She thanked village staff and Abu-Taleb for their “tireless work” in bringing the project to fruition. The Pete’s project is a substantial part of the former mayor’s labors to revitalize the Madison Street business corridor. Scaman called the groundbreaking a “significant milestone” in the revitalization journey.

During Abu-Taleb’s time as mayor, the village board made major investments to develop the street. It approved a major senior housing development, currently under construction directly across from the Pete’s site, and saw the redevelopment of the Rush Oak Park Hospital emergency room. In his speech Wednesday, Abu-Taleb told the small crowd the street has been “reinvigorated” and expressed his gratitude for those who helped make that possible.

“I believe we all came together to make this happen and allow this victory for the community,” Abu-Taleb said.

Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) Executive Director John Lynch, as well as Tammie Grossman, Oak Park development customer services director, and Village Trustee Chibuike Enyia also picked up ceremonial shovels for the occasion.

Not all are pleased with the prospect of having a Pete’s on Madison Street. From the onset, the project faced criticism from residents and neighboring grocers, who expressed fears that Pete’s would have negative impact on their businesses.

Architecture preservationists were also against the development, as it involved the demolition of a historic but long empty auto dealership building. Demolition crews took the Foley-Rice building down last December. Pete’s has committed to repurposing the historic building’s famous seven grotesques into the grocery store’s design.

Vertical construction on Pete’s will not begin until this spring, after construction crews finish relocating underground utilities. Once built, the village of Oak Park expects the 46,000 square-foot grocery store to bring in roughly $587,000 in real estate taxes and $546,000 in sales taxes annually. Pete’s is also expected to employ 140 to 180 workers. The store could open to the public as early as late next year.

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