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New supermarket concept proposed in Vernon Hills
By Mick Zawislak | Daily Herald Staff

An artist's rendering shows the proposed location of a Mariano's Fresh Market near Lowe's in the Shoppes of Gregg's Landing retail area in Vernon Hills.


Artist rendering/The Bradford Real Estate Companies

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Published: 5/17/2010 12:00 PM | Updated: 5/18/201 12:19 AM

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A new concept from a Wisconsin-based supermarket chain is being proposed in Vernon Hills.

Village trustees on Wednesday are scheduled to learn more about Mariano's Fresh Market, which is proposed for an area north of the Lowe's home improvement store at the Shoppes of Gregg's Landing retail center along Milwaukee Avenue.

The store, one of as many as 15 planned in Chicago and the suburbs during the next four or five years, is named for Bob Mariano, chairman and chief executive officer of Roundy's Supermarkets Inc. The Milwaukee-based chain operates 154 groceries in Wisconsin and Minnesota and has an annual revenue near $4 billion.

Mariano's would feature an eat-in sushi bar, Italian espresso and gelato cafe, European bakery, wood-fired pizza station and other amenities.

"They've characterized themselves as a combination of Whole Foods, Sunset (Foods) and Costco," said John Kalmar, assistant village manager.

Literature for Mariano's describes the market as "blending the best of innovative retailing with old-world quality and personal service."

Village officials have been working with developers of the retail area fronting the Gregg's Landing subdivision for years to relocate an existing grocery store or bring a new one to the site.

"We anticipate that this store will be a showcase building which will provide the upscale shopping experience that many residents have requested," according to information presented to the village board.

The addition of the 70,000-square-foot Mariano's is expected to stimulate development of the remaining space in the retail area along Milwaukee Avenue.

Building a grocery store there also would likely eliminate the chance competitors could locate nearby, board members were told.

That could be a blow for Libertyville, which has been trying to lure a grocery store to the former Frank's Nursery and Crafts property across the street.

"The Libertyville site is not big enough," Kalmar said.

For the site to be developed as planned in Vernon Hills, the village board would have to agree to allow the property to be resubdivided and would have to approve a liquor license.

An unspecified incentive also may be part of the deal.

"There has been some discussion in regards to that," Kalmar said. "I don't know where it ultimately will end up."

Mariano, an Inverness resident, was the former CEO of Dominick's Finer Foods, who left when it was sold to Safeway. Dominick's has operated a store in Vernon Hills for years and would face competition from its old boss.

The first Mariano's is scheduled to open this summer at the former site of Lattof Chevrolet in Arlington Heights.

A spring 2011 opening in Vernon Hills would be possible if the plans progress smoothly.