Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) during a press conference convened in Maywood on Thursday afternoon to discuss Aldi’s announcement that it plans to close its Maywood location on Dec. 24 | Michael Romain/VFP
Thursday, December 15, 2016 || By Michael Romain | @maywoodnews
During a press conference he convened inside of the village’s Council Chambers on Thursday afternoon, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), whose district encompasses the village, gave top executives at Aldi, Inc. an ultimatum.
“If they decide to move, we will make sure that everybody knows they closed the only grocery store in a black community,” Boykin said in front of several local TV news cameras. “[They don’t want to be] the grinch that stole the grocery.”
Village officials, including Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins, are still smarting from receiving notice over the phone last week that Aldi was planning on closing its location at 216 Madison St. — the only full-service big box grocery store in town — on Christmas Eve.
At a meeting on Wednesday night, David Myers, Maywood’s assistant village manager, said that he and his colleagues were “blindsided” by the news, which he learned through a phone call from the company’s vice president.
Myers said that Aldi didn’t give any indication that they were looking to close the store during the village’s annual courtesy call to the company earlier this year. In fact, he said, several months ago, Aldi officials had phoned Perkins to discuss possibly expanding their Maywood store.
Boykin also expressed disappointment in what he and others perceive to be the company’s lack of communication, pointing out that Aldi “never once came to the county for tax incentives.”
“It doesn’t seem like they had meaningful dialogue with anybody,” Boykin said of Aldi officials.
Village officials said that, 12 years ago, Aldi was granted a Class 8 real estate tax incentive that is designed to encourage commercial and industrial development in economically stagnant areas.
According to a description of the incentive put out by the Cook County Assessor’s office, “Class 8 assessment levels are ten percent (10%) of market value for ten years, fifteen percent (15%) in year eleven and twenty percent (20%) in year twelve. This constitutes a substantial reduction from the twenty-five percent (25%) at which industrial and commercial properties are commonly assessed.”
Village officials said that the Maywood Aldi was paying around $22,000 a year in property taxes, which they explained was relatively light compared to the tax burden of other commercial and residential property owners in the village.
In 1992, according to the Good Jobs First subsidy tracker, Maywood also agreed to grant Aldi tax relief in the form of a local sales tax rebate, which was designed to help offset construction and environmental remediation costs related to the construction of the Madison Street grocery store. The local subsidy was valued at $390,000.
Village officials said that Aldi stopped receiving benefits from this rebate in 2013. And Myers noted that the store’s Class 8 tax incentive was set to expire at the end of this year.
Boykin, the Maywood Board of Trustees, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th) have all expressed a willingness to explore various incentives to offer Aldi that might persuade company officials to keep the store open.
And within the last several days, the Maywood Board of Trustees and Boykin have both sent off letters to company officials urging them to keep the Maywood store open. One Maywood trustee, Michael Rogers, even drove to the company’s US headquarters in Batavia.
“I know that all of these units of government are united around the idea and the concept that we should be able to find a way to keep the only grocery store in Maywood viable enough that the owners will not have to worry about whether or not they’re going to make a profit,” Davis said, adding that he’s searching “to see if there are any federal resources available to help this store be viable.”
So far, the elected officials gathered Thursday said, the store hasn’t provided an in-depth reason for the Maywood Aldi’s closing. Boykin, who said he’s been in communication with Aldi officials since learning about the store’s closing last week, noted that they told him a primary reason was because there are other Aldi locations in Bellwood, Broadview and Melrose Park that are less than four miles from the Maywood location.
But that concession, those gathered argued, is not enough.
“We’d hate to see the last full-service grocery store in Maywood leave,” said Bishop Claude Porter, the founder of the Maywood nonprofit Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action (PLCCA).
Porter and Davis both pledged to urge their congregants and constituents in Maywood to shop at the store consistently in order to signal to the company that the village supports the store.
Boykin and village officials said that they have arranged to meet with Aldi executives in the days ahead to try negotiating conditions that would allow the store to continue operating. Myers said that the company is receptive to the meeting, but added that there have been no promises to delay the store’s planned Dec. 24 closing date. VFP
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