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Downers Grove council gives the OK to Fresh Thyme grocery store

DOWNERS GROVE – The Downers Grove Village Council unanimously approved a $550,000 reimbursement to developers of a planned Fresh Thyme grocery store at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The council discussed the item in detail at the May 6 meeting during the agreement's first reading, and voted without further discussion May 13, though it did add new required signage at the request of neighbors.

The agreement will reimburse the developers of a Fresh Thyme grocery store planned for the 4300 block of Fairview Avenue for some of the project's infrastructure improvements.

The $550,000 reimbursement will go to help cover some costs related to burying overhead utility lines, and toward stormwater management improvements. The agreement requires the developer to finish the project by July 1, 2015, Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Michael Cassa told the council at the earlier meeting.

Developers plan to build the 29,000-square-foot grocery, and a 4,500-square-foot out-building at the southwest corner of Florence and Ogden avenues.

After residents expressed concerns at the May 6 meeting about traffic generated by the store, village staff added language to the agreement requiring additional signage to direct delivery truck traffic away from the surrounding neighborhood.

At the May 6 meeting, William Natale of the 400 block of Lake Avenue presented a petition with 65 signatures protesting the zoning and traffic plans included in the development. He said trucks should be restricted from entering the grocery from Fairview Avenue, and only allowed to enter on Ogden Avenue. He said neighbors are concerned that trucks will end up on Lake Street, which is a cul-de-sac, and that it will also congest Fairview Avenue to an unusable degree.

"The greatest concern that we have is that a child is going to be killed by one of these trucks," he said.

Jennifer Mowen of GreenbergFarrow Architects, who is working with the developers, said at the meeting that Fairview Avenue is an authorized truck route in the village.

The new signage in the agreement includes requiring the developer to install "Local Traffic Only" signs for southbound traffic exiting the site along Florence Avenue, in addition to the “No Trucks” southbound signage previously proposed. The developer will also be required also place additional signage at the Lake Avenue entrance facing east noting "No Outlet."

The Downers Grove Fresh Thyme location would be part of a major midwest expansion.

The new specialty grocer features "healthy and organic value-priced offerings" and plans to open 60 new stores and create about 5,000 new jobs throughout the midwest over the next five years, the company announced in February.

The stores will feature a produce section, including locally-sourced and organic items. The stores will also have a butcher shop, a dairy section featuring local items, a bakery, the Fresh Thyme Kitchen with salad bar, a wine and craft beer section and a supplement, vitamin and body care section.

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