Mariano’s set to open in March
Construction on the Mariano's Fresh Market near Lawrence and Oketo avenues in Harwood Heights which is expected to open in March. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:01AM
A soon-to-open grocery store will expand shopping opportunities in the Harwood Heights area.
It also will expand traffic — much to the consternation of those living nearby.
Mariano’s Fresh Market is scheduled to open at Lawrence and Oketo avenues sometime before the end of March, said Wayne Pesek, village economic development coordinator.
“The exterior nearly is complete,” he said. “Now the focus is on the interior, including the wall partitions.
“In about six week, we expect to install the refrigeration units.”
Mariano’s bills itself as an upscale world market with reasonable prices and with extra amenities, such as an in-store cafe.
The new business has been the subject of many heated debates, starting with a Dec. 1, 2011, Harwood Heights Village Board Committee of the Whole meeting that included a presentation by representatives of Bradford Real Estate Companies and Roundy’s, the parent company of Mariano’s.
Since that time, the village has held myriad open meetings, noted Village President Arlene Jezierny.
The proposed market will be about 25,000 square feet.
With lots of customers expected, some residents are concerned about traffic, especially along Oketo Avenue; that street and others nearby already have a lot of cars, as drivers use it as a short-cut to avoid Harlem and Lawrence avenues.
“We feel like our concerns are being totally ignored,” said Richard Fladten, who lives across the street from the site of Mariano’s Fresh Market.
Resident Andy Schmidt also is concerned that traffic on Oketo would become a problem.
“It’s already a thoroughfare,” he said.
Several of those streets being used as shortcuts were deemed as “no through streets” by a recent village ordinance.
Also of concern were varying cost estimates, and any liability that may be incurred by the village.
Jezierny said the village has been able to negotiate concessions from Bradford, the developer, to the tune of $25 million-plus.
Not only will the new store employ 400 to 450 people; it also will provide the village with a boost in sales tax revenue.
“We should be happy to have something like this want to come to Harwood Heights,” Jezierny said.
Still to be determined is the total cost of the project, not only for Bradford but also for the village.~.