Mariano's smallest grocery has big plans

Mariano's has set about improving its Ukrainian Village store under the grocery chain's new management.

"I know a lot of people are unhappy with the store," store director Shiela Cosgrove told East Village Association members Monday. "It is getting better." Cosgrove has run the location at 2021 W. Chicago Ave. for five months. She has put five new managers in place, improving produce and other departments. The store has 260 employees.

"It's been a huge transition," she added. The former Dominick's site is the chain's smallest. Its high traffic demands more frequent cleanup, and there's less shelf space and back-room storage. "When I run out of cornstarch," she said, "I'm out of cornstarch." She admits she's made home deliveries of out-of-stock items.

New owner Kroger Co. plans to rebuild former Dominick's locations. While plans have not been drafted for a Chicago Avenue renovation, Cosgrove hopes to keep the street-level space open and add rooftop space. She hopes to add organic products and install a bar. Despite its size, the location is the local chain's top liquor seller.

EVA members also heard from Michael Skoulsky, the new owner of St. Boniface Church. Neighbors who fought to save the long-vacant church at 1358 W. Chestnut St. plan an Oct. 15 block party to celebrate.

Skoulsky's Stas Development intends to rehab the long-vacant building as 15 residential units, while adding a 24-unit residential building and a satellite location for the Chicago Academy of Music. The music school is negotiating with the Chicago Roman Catholic archdiocese to relocate its Hyde Park main campus to another historic church, St. Adalbert, at 1650 W. 17th St.

Skoulsky has secured the St. Boniface site and will draft new architectural plans for neighborhood review. The project would require zoning changes. Construction could start next spring or summer and take 12 to 18 months for the new buildings and two years for the church renovation. The Chicago Tribune, DNAinfo and Our Urban Times have details on the sale.

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