Neighbors raise traffic concerns over Lincoln Park Trader Joe's

A new Trader Joe's may be coming to a busy part of Lincoln Park and could be open as soon as June of next year, but nearby residents first want to do what they can to avoid potential traffic and parking headaches the store might bring.

“This is going to change the nature of our neighborhood, big time,” said Diane Handelsman, who lives directly behind the proposed site on West Schubert Avenue, “We want [Trader Joe’s], but we want to maintain the quality of our lifestyles.”

About 75 community members attended a meeting Tuesday night at Louisa May Alcott School to discuss the project. 

Chief amongst the concerns of the attendees was the effect the store, which would be located on the corner of West Diversey Parkway and North Orchard Street, might have on local traffic. 

Particularly, residents expressed concerns over the proposed supermarket’s shipping plan, which would run semis down the narrow, residential streets of West Schubert Avenue and North Orchard Street before and after the store’s operating hours.

In lieu of using semis, many, including Alderman Vi Daley (D-43), supported the notion that Trader Joe’s use smaller trucks for more frequent deliveries on the streets.

One attendee, Stephen Roman, an architect and certified city planner, proposed an alternative delivery plan that would contain the delivery trucks on the commercial streets of Diversey Parkway and Clark Street, and would take advantage of the extended alley that would exist on the east side of the proposed Trader Joe’s.

Several in the crowd cheered for Trader Joe’s to consider this option.

While Handelsman and Roman were among many who expressed concern over traffic and quality of life issues the store might bring, many others in attendance were strongly in favor of the new grocery store.

 “I am a devotee of Trader Joe’s. The closer it is to me the better,” insisted Gale Klein, a former president of the Park West Community Association. 

Additionally, Ald. Daley voiced confidence in her constituents’ desire for the store. “I did a survey some time ago. They want a grocery store and the one they want is Trader Joe’s. This has been going on for years,” she said.

Chris Oakley, an architect with the project’s developers, led the presentation along with Ald. Daley and representatives from Trader Joe’s.  Oakley detailed the plans of the project, which would create a 15,000 square foot grocery store with a two-level parking garage on what is currently a parking lot.

“We don’t have building permits right now,” Oakley said. When asked why, Oakley responded that the developers’ design team is working towards finalizing the hefty documentation necessary to apply for the permits.

 “We hope to commence construction in the early fourth quarter of this year. That’s our goal,” he added.

The representatives from Trader Joe’s assured the assembly that their concerns over traffic and quality of life were being heard and would be carefully considered.

“Our main goal is to be great neighbors everywhere we go,” said Adam Mutolo, Trader Joe’s Regional Vice President.