A Trader Joe’s will open in the building that was formerly occupied by shuttered grocer Treasure Island at Lake Park Avenue and 54th Place, the University of Chicago and Trader Joe’s announced on Monday. Trader Joe’s plans to open the store this coming fall.
This will be the first Trader Joe’s on the South Side of Chicago, and the chain’s sixth location in the city. Currently, its southernmost store in Chicago is in South Loop.
In the statement announcing the opening, associate vice president of the University’s real estate operations Angie Marks said that the University—which owns the Hyde Park Shopping Center property where Treasure Island was located—chose Trader Joe’s based on various factors, including input from the community.
The University put out a survey in November asking residents of the area what they might want to see in a new grocer, after Treasure Island abruptly closed all of its branches at the beginning of October. According to results shared in the statement, 628 people within the survey asked for a Trader Joe’s, three times more than any other grocery store requested and more than all the other grocery stores combined.
Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, who was reelected in April in a hotly contested runoff election, praised the announcement, saying in the statement, “The need to attract another quality, affordable grocery store is something I have heard consistently from my 5th ward constituents since last fall.”
A Trader Joe’s spokesperson added that the chain will share more information, including information on hiring efforts, as more details become final. According to the statement, the grocer anticipates that most of its employees will be hired from the area.
The new store will only take up part of the space that Treasure Island used to occupy; the University said that it is still marketing the remaining parts of the building to possible tenants.
The University had initially planned to announce the grocer replacing Treasure Island by the end of the first quarter of 2019, but said in a statement on April 5 that it had missed this deadline because of “continuing negotiations with the prospective tenant.”
The announcement comes around two months after full-service grocer Jewel-Osco opened in nearby Woodlawn, although the Jewel had been in the works since 2017, well before Treasure Island announced its closure.
Some University of Chicago students had been advocating for Trader Joe’s, which is known for its specialty products and relative affordability, to come to the Treasure Island space. Last fall, two third-year students posted in the UChicago Class of 2020 group asking others to use Trader Joe’s “Location Request” form to ask for the grocer to come to Hyde Park.
Third-year Sam Joyce, one of the students who posted, told The Maroon after the Trader Joe’s announcement was reported, “I think a Trader Joe’s in this location fills an important need and I’m glad I won’t have to go all the way to the South Loop for the Mandarin orange chicken and those dark chocolate peanut butter cups.”
Updated 5/13/19, 6:47p.m. with comment from third-year Sam Joyce.