Organic grocer comes to former Kmart site in Fairview Heights, adds 100 jobs

News-DemocratAugust 8, 2013 

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— An organic grocer will build one of its first stores at the site of the former Kmart and create 100 jobs.

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market on Thursday announced its plans to build a 28,000-square-foot grocery store at the new Fairview City Centre, located near the northwest corner of Illinois 159 and Lincoln Trail.

Company President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Sherrell said the store will be among the first in the St. Louis area. Construction is expected to take 10 to 12 months. He said the Phoenix-based company wants to build 50 stores throughout the Midwest over the next six years.

Sherrell said a quarter of the grocery store's food will be fresh produce, more than any of its competitors.

"It's not just a fad anymore," Sherrell said. "Healthier food and a healthier lifestyle is here to stay."

The Fairview City Centre project already is under way. Demolition of the existing shopping center, which had housed Kmart from 1998 until last December and initially opened in 1970 as a Venture retail store, began in June. Fairview Heights-based Impact Strategies is building the new shopping center that will be built in its place and will have six new store spaces ranging in size from 13,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet.

Both Petco and Office Max would remain as tenants. Petco will remain in its current location at the shopping center's north end and Office Max will eventually relocate to a new spot in the retail development. Sporting goods retailer Sports Authority, which is operating in Fairview Heights Plaza, also will relocate to the new shopping center.

Dan Gibson, vice president of shopping center owner New Hyde Park-based Kimco Realty Corp., said another potential tenant is currently negotiating a lease for 24,000 square feet at Fairview City Centre. Gibson also presented a check to the city for $100,000 toward the city's beautification project planned along Lincoln Trail.

"We're excited about our commitment from our existing tenant," Gibson said. "We're excited about this new commitment and we're truly excited that this will be unique for the city."

Fairview Heights Mayor Gail Mitchell said the new and current tenants are estimated to more than triple the revenue that old shopping center had generated. Mitchell said the new organic grocery store will fill a niche that the city has been pursuing.

"We will fill a void that Fairview (Heights) shoppers have been crying for," Mitchell said. "This signals a second wave of retail development in Fairview Heights."

"It's signifies that Fairview Heights is seeing significant retail development," Fairview Heights Economic Development Director Mike Malloy said. "Fairview Heights saw significant retail development in the '70s and mid-'90s. This is the second wave."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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