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Second grocer coming to Marengo

MARENGO – Residents in Marengo soon will have a second option for grocery shopping.

The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a commercial center along east Route 20 that will be anchored by Sullivan’s Foods, which has locations throughout northwestern Illinois.

Sullivan’s Foods will anchor the development with a 31,000 sq. ft. store that should be open by fall.

The store will give Marengo residents a food-buying option other than Wisted’s Super Market, which has operated in the city for decades.

The store will fulfill a campaign promise by Mayor Donald Lockhart, who said he heard from residents about the need for more grocers.

“I have not forgotten that,” Lockhart said. “The store will be beneficial. That’s what the people of Marengo are asking for.”

The seven-acre development at Route 20 and Franks Road – next door to Glo Bowl Fun Center – also sets aside space for a medical center, fast-food restaurant and small retailers.

The council delayed a vote on incentives that lured Sullivan’s Foods to Marengo. Officials need time to tweak easements detailed in the agreement, Lockhart said.

The incentives deal would entitle the grocer to 100 percent of the city’s share of sales tax collected by the store in 2014, and 75 percent of the sales tax it collects in each of the following four years, ending in 2018.

City officials did not have projections of the store’s sales tax dollars.

What the commercial development still is lacking is tenants. Developers from Walter Wayne in Rochelle still are negotiating with fast-food chains to occupy 3,000 square feet of restaurant space.

They also are talking with three potential tenants for the 8,000-square-foot medical center. Sullivan’s Foods will have about 6,000 square feet attached to its building for small, yet undetermined, retailers.

“We are talking to people, but we have nothing signed,” David Diamond, president of Walter Wayne, told city aldermen. “We have nothing really we want to share yet, since we are in negotiations with several companies.”

Construction on secondary developments in the center should start sometime in 2014.

In other business, the council vote unanimously to amend the city’s comprehensive plan to project future development along Route 23 to the south and west of Marengo.

The changes are partly to entice the Illinois Tollway Authority to help finance a full interchange at Route 23 and Interstate 90. The planning, and the city’s efforts to annex properties all of the way to I-90 drew the ire of some Riley Township residents.

Facing city aldermen, the residents expressed concern about Marengo’s ability to deliver services for Riley residents annexed into the city.

Afterward, City Manager Gary Boden announced that a delay in a vote and public hearing on annexing 750 acres west of Route 23 and southwest of Pleasant Grove Road.

The council will take up the annexation agreement in mid-March, when neighboring annexation deals should be finalized, Boden said.

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