CRYSTAL LAKE – Demolition of the former Sears store will begin in a few weeks as Mariano's prepares its entry to the Crystal Lake marketplace.
The new multimillion-dollar Mariano’s grocery store – slated to open in the first half of 2018 – could reinvigorate the area, generate between $35 million and $40 million in sales annually and bring hundreds of jobs to Crystal Lake, officials said.
City officials announced at the beginning of the year that the Chicago-area specialty grocer would open a new location at the site of the former Sears at 105 Northwest Highway. City officials had been in talks with the chain for about two years before the announcement.
The city’s community development department specifically sought out the chain because of the “catalyst” affect it has on communities, city officials said.
“It revitalizes the whole area when they come to a community,” said Michele Rentzsch, Crystal Lake’s community development director. “Everywhere they go, the area has an upswing because they are such a vibrant, attractive retailer. It’s a regional draw.”
She added that other developers seek out properties that are near Mariano’s grocery stores because there is research that suggests those areas will retain value, so the store will mean a lot for the city’s economic development moving forward.
Demolition of the Sears building will begin in the next several weeks and construction of a 74,800-square-foot facility will begin this year, she said.
In 2015, food stores in Crystal Lake generated $107 million in sales, said John Melaniphy, president of Melaniphy & Associates Inc., a shopping center consultant firm that also conducts market research.
The addition of Mariano’s could bump those numbers by 30 percent to 40 percent, which could boost sales tax revenues for the city, he said.
“There has been so much change with Dominick’s closing and with Garden Fresh closing,” he said. “The market seems to be in need of another grocer and it seems there will be sufficient demand to support that store.”
Jewel-Osco, The Fresh Market, Fresh Thyme and Joseph’s Marketplace also sit along Route 14 near the site of the future Mariano’s.
Melaniphy said that although the grocery store market is extremely competitive, customer loyalty is down and it’s difficult to predict how existing stores will be affected when Mariano’s opens in 2018.
“Many shoppers frequent many different stores for different items,” he said. “They may buy in bulk at Costco, and buy everyday items at Jewel or Mariano’s and buy specialty items at Trader Joe’s. … Obviously there will be some sales transfer, but the impact on individual grocers is difficult to isolate.”
Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said he was excited to welcome Mariano’s to Crystal Lake.
“It’s a top-shelf organization all the way,” he said. “The people have been very good to work with and we are thrilled they have decided to locate here. I think it will do wonders for the vitality of that section of Route 14.”
Shepley added that he thought the store would benefit the other retailers in the area.
“A lot of shoppers appreciate having multiple establishments in close proximity to each other,” he said. “I really think there is an equal if not greater chance that it will benefit the establishment rather than harm them.”