Village officials are appealing to Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Governor Quinn and residents to fight for the beleaguered store.
The Olympia Fields board rallied behind the village’s beleaguered Jewel-Osco store Monday night, saying it’s not too late to save the grocery which also serves residents of Park Forest, Chicago Heights and Matteson.
Village officials urged residents to submit letters to Jewel headquarters to the attention of: Mr. Brian W. Huff, President, Jewel-Osco, 150 Pierce Road, Suite 200, Itasca, Illinois 60143.
Village Board President Debra Meyers-Martin said she met privately with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Monday and said he was receptive to saving the Jewel-Osco store at 2500 Lincoln Highway.
President’s Private Meeting With the Governor
“I had a personal meeting with the governor, as you know the loss of Jewel could be a tremendous blow to the economy, sales tax revenue, and economic health in general,” said Martin. She said the board was very disappointed by Jewel’s leadership to close the Olympia Fields store.
While Governor Quinn was in Tinley Park for a luncheon meeting of Southland Mayors, Meyers-Martin said she boldly made a bid for the Illinois’ top lawmaker’s help.
“I did implore his assistance both on state level, anything he can do in his office, he graciously agreed to put us in contact with director of national retailers associations,” said Meyers-Martin. Additionally, she noted, State Rep. Al Riley is going to write Jewel, as well as State Sen. Toi Hutchinson.
“We’re hoping this is not an done deal, we want Jewel to stay, we don’t want that empty vacant space,” said Meyers-Martin, pointing out that Park Forest and Chicago Heights would also be affected by the grocery’s closing.
Village Won’t Give Up Yet
“I was very encouraged that the Governor understood our plight, was sympathetic to our plight. I have my fingers crossed,” Meyers-Martin said. “Certainly we’re looking for residents to write letters, that will help us also. We’re not going to give up yet.”
Currently, the store is scheduled to close its doors forever Aug. 30. The Osco pharmacy is slated to stop filling prescriptions July 15, although the TCF Bank was set to remain open until October 31.
“it’s very important that we work with (Jewel),” reflected Meyers-Martin. “I just thought that’s a blow if we do lose them, they are one of our larger employers. . . At the end of the day, we may not be successful, but I didn’t want to say that we didn’t try to keep them here.”
Rev. Samuel E. Hinkle III, senior pastor at , attended the meeting and told village board members he would be writing to Jewel. Additionally, he and other ministers are meeting with Congressman Jackson next week, Hinkle said.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Olympia Fields resident Dr. David E. Morgan, also in attendance at the meeting, said of the effort to save the Jewel.
Some Will Wonder About ‘Retail Redlining’
Although the Jewel’s high rents were a factor in its recent decision, some will wonder if the decision to close the Olympia Fields store smacks of “retail redlining” or economic discrimination based on race, explained Village Administrator David Mekarski.
He pointed out some strong arguments to retain the Olympia Fields Jewel location:
- The Lincoln Highway/Western Avenue corridor has an average daily traffic count of more than 65,000 cars, one of the highest volume intersections in the Southland.
- Within a 3 mile radius, the Olympia Corners’ Shopping Center serves around 86,000 individuals, with an household average income of over $75,000.
- Within a 3 mile radius, there is a total retail expenditure $753,849,183 of $203,829,562 over of grocery spending alone.
- Olympia Fields has recently enacted a tax increment financing district (TIF) which has lured attention from an array of “Class A” retail opportunities .
- The closure of Jewel Osco means that residents from Olympia Fields, Park Forest and Chicago Heights are forced to travel an average of 20 to 30 minutes to another Jewel location.