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Known for Edna's, intersection attracts CVS

For four decades, the corner of Madison and Kedzie in East Garfield Park bustled thanks to Edna’s Restaurant, which kept palates and stomachs satisfied with a unique brand of southern dining classics, all done from scratch in a “down home” atmosphere.

On Sundays following church services, the restaurant would reach capacity—foreshadowing an all-day rush that eventually prompted management to close on Mondays, allowing the staff time to catch their breath while supplies were restocked.

Photo: Greg Davis

The intersection and particular parcel where the 13,000-square-foot store will be built in the next year were first identified in a 2007 plan from NCP lead agency the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.

Although Edna’s closed earlier this fall after the death of pioneering businesswoman Edna Stewart, its legacy will remain. In August, NCP lead agency the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance dedicated a mural on Madison Street that incorporated a scene from Edna’s, honoring the eatery for its historic place in East Garfield Park.

And on Nov. 19, staff from the Greater Garfield Park Chamber of Commerce and GPCA gathered with many others in the community for a groundbreaking that welcomed a CVS Pharmacy to the northeast corner of Madison and Kedzie.

CVS representatives had become convinced the site would work for them thanks to traffic counts, data that showed demand for pharmacy goods in the community—and the foot traffic of adjacent retail businesses, in particular Edna’s. The City of Chicago helped seal the deal by agreeing to write down the cost of the land.

“We are happy that this day has finally arrived, and we would like to welcome CVS Pharmacy to the East Garfield Park community,” said GPCA President Eunita Rushing. “The Alliance has been working with CVS Pharmacy’s development team for the past four years.”

Photo: Greg Davis

The foot traffic that once entered the popular Edna's Restaurant helped convince CVS that the intersection of Madison and Kedzie held potential.

Expected to open in late 2011, the store will reflect new design concepts, including a 75 percent green roof and a landscaped area facing the intersection. The freestanding, 13,000-square-foot structure will feature a pharmacy drive-through and on-site parking. 

No TIF assistance will be involved in the project, which will foster economic development and bring much-needed jobs to the community, noted Mayor Daley at the Nov. 19 event.

“During this tough economy, this project represents important new retail construction in the Madison Street commercial area and will help to revitalize the entire East Garfield Park neighborhood by sparking additional development,” he said. “Not only does it bring a needed retail outlet to the community, it will also provide up to 12 permanent jobs and creates 75 temporary construction jobs.”

Departing Ald. Ed Smith (28th) vowed to continue to work on behalf of the community upon resigning his seat and thanked all involved in the effort. “CVS’ decision was the product of economic development planning and attraction efforts that will continue to produce results in East Garfield Park,” he said.

When the GPCA’s “Retail and Urban Design Plan” was published in 2007, this commercial node and the particular vacant parcel were identified as prime targets for new commercial development. Little did the plan’s authors know their efforts would result in the successful attraction of a national pharmacy retailer.

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