According to a report by city of Geneva Economic Development Director Ellen Divita, it isn't likely going to be downtown Geneva.
One reason downtown isn't prime real estate for grocery stores is that most grocers are looking for sites of seven acres or more and about 70,000 square feet. The big grocery stores are almost exclusively located along or very close to high-trafficked streets, such as Route 38 or Kirk Road or Randall Road.
Divita told the City Council during a Committee of the Whole meeting last month that that there simply no sites downtown that fit the bill.
So, where would a grocery store go?
According to the map Divita provided the City Council, there are 10 potential sites that could support a big-league grocery store, one of which is the existing 7.4-acre Dominick's site.
Three potential sites are along Randall Road, two are on the north side of Fabyan Parkway, four are along Route 38 (East State Street) near its intersection Kirk Road and one is along Kirk Road.
An attached map shows the 10 sites:
- A 14-acre parcel west of Geneva Commons.
- The existing Dominick's 7.4-acre parcel.
- The Gander Mountain 8.2-acre parcel.
- A 39-acre parcel north of Fabyan Parkway and east of Route 25.
- A 13-acre parcel north of Fabyan Parkway and west of Kirk Road.
- A 56-acre parcel east of Kirk Road and north of Fabyan Parkway.
- A 12-acre parcel at the southwest corner of East State Street and Kirk Road.
- A 7-acre parcel at the southeast corner of East State Street and Kirk Road.
- A 16-acre parcel on the south side of East State Street just east of, I think, Old Kirk Road.
- A 17-acre parcel on the north side of East State Street.
Why is a grocery store so important?
Well, sales tax is the big answer.
A chart provided by Divita shows that Geneva had $46,892,593 in grocery sales in 2012. That compares to the following:
Elburn — $15,410,036
South Elgin — $53,059,681
Batavia — $61,014,300
St. Charles — $74,096,587
North Aurora — $97,621,773
Those stats include all categories of grocers, including meat and fish markets, fruit and vegetable markets, candy and confectionary stores, diary product stores, bakeries and others.
City officials had been hoping for years to draw a grocer to the downtown area to spur additional downtown residential growth. Much of the emphasis in planning these days is for residences in the downtown area — generally townhomes or condos or apartments, but single-family, as well — which provide foot traffic to support businesses.
Geneva is well suited for that scenario because of its scenic riverfront, walking distance to the Metra train station and variety of downtown shops and restaurants. A grocery store in walking distance would be a final piece in the puzzle to make downtown living even more convenient and desirable for potential residents and developers.
What grocers could go downtown?
Although a big, full-scale grocery store isn't likely to happen in downtown Geneva, it would be possible for the downtown area to attract a "boutique grocer," Divita said.
A boutique grocer typically is a specialty store, something like a Whole Foods, which sells produce, wine and beer and gourmet foods.
A boutique grocery store might need two acres, 20,000 square feet and about 100 parking spaces.
The nearest Whole Foods stores are in Naperville and Wheaton.