By Dermot Connolly
The Orland Park Village Board on Monday approved an incentive package that will bring a Pete’s Fresh Market grocery store to the former site of Art Van Furniture at 15080 S. LaGrange Road.
The store owners plan to invest $12 million in the redevelopment of the site, including the remodeling, façade improvements and a build-out of the existing building, which will be converted into a 65,000 square foot store employing at least 165 full- and part-time employees. Parking lot improvements are also included in that cost.
According to the terms of the agreement, the village will reimburse the owners for a quarter of the costs, up to $3 million, by sharing sales taxes generated at the store on a 50-50 basis for up to 10 years. The agreement, which goes into effect when the store opens, could last up to 10 years. But it will end before that if the $3 million threshold is reached.
“We are off to the races,” said Stephanie Dremonas, representing the company, after the agreement was approved. Her father, Jimmy, founded the family-owned Pete’s Fresh Market chain of Chicago-area stores.
“Thank you for your support. We’re happy to be here. We are South Siders, so we are happy to be home.”
Mayor Keith Pekau, who credited Trustee Cynthia Nelson Katsenes for helping to close the deal, said the main question the board had was, “When will you be open?”
“I am super-excited to see them coming to Orland Park. It is a great store,” said Katsenes.
Dromonas said the company was planning to open in early 2022, with the redesign of the building they have owned since 2011 expected to take 12 months.
“The architectural plans are being drawn up now, and we hope to have them ready for (village) review by the end of this year. We are moving as quickly as possible but we have to do the whole shebang, from top to bottom—plumbing, mechanical. We want to make it feel and look like a brand-new Pete’s Market,” she said.
“Congratulations and welcome to town. It is wonderful when you see businesses come in and fill up our vacant spots,” said Trustee Kathy Fenton.
“I am so glad to see this moving forward,” said Trustee Jim Dodge. “I am so glad to see this is moving forward. I wish you all the luck that you are done (with the deal) in five years.”
“It is a great addition to the village of Orland Park. It shows everyone that Orland Park is the place where businesses want to be, even during the COVID pandemic,” said Pekau.
In other business Monday night, after a lengthy discussion, the board approved an amendment to the village’s stormwater basin improvement program that will allow homeowners associations to take ownership of detention ponds on their property. Village Manager George Koczwara pointed out that there are 550 of those types of ponds in Orland Park, with the village maintaining 170.
The issue became somewhat contentious when several residents of the Eagle Ridge subdivision at 104th Avenue and 183rd Street expressed opposition to village plans to replace eroding sod surrounding their pond with native plants, at a cost of $91,000.
According the original permit issued by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District in 1994, when the subdivision was built, native plants are required. But they were replaced since then.
One resident called the native plants “just weeds” that would block their water views. Some want the sod replaced with rip-rap stones, but Pekau said the $290,000 cost would not be financially feasible. Village officials offered to resolve the issue by planting only native vegetation that would not grow over two feet above the edge of the pond, and the mayor said rockier outcrops could be added to allow easier access for fishing—something else residents were concerned about.
If a majority of Eagle Ridge homeowner’s association votes to do so, they can now take over control of the pond. The village would then contribute the $91,000 budgeted for the improvements. But future costs would be the HOA’s responsibility and village and MWRD rules would need to be followed.
Several trustees suggested a lack of communication from the village caused the residents’ dissatisfaction. But the only trustee to vote against the amendment was Dodge, who said it could be seen as unfair if some subdivision ponds are maintained by the village at no added cost to residents, while others could end up paying a special assessment while paying the same property taxes as everyone else.