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Moving Right Along

The latest on Chicago's most anticipated grocery store construction project


On Wednesday November 15, Forty Acres Fresh Market (and our friends at Westside Health Authority) celebrated breaking ground on the construction of our long anticipated brick and mortar store. Already several weeks into its renovation, an active construction site served as a humming backdrop to the festivities


Construction worker carrying a long plank of wood while walking atop scaffolding outdoors
Mason worker building the loading dock addition

Are We There Yet?

A groundbreaking event naturally begs the question, "When is the store opening?"


The answer:


This project is converting a 70+ year old building from a thrift store with minimal mechanical, plumbing, and electrical needs (and nary a window) into a subdivided two tenant building that houses a full-service grocery store with a fully equipped kitchen. That requires all of the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical (and windows too).

GIF of Dwayne The Rock Johnson saying, "This could take a while"

The general contractor, Milhouse Engineering & Construction projected the construction will take eight months to complete. Mobilization started the last week of September. It is now mid December. You could do the math, but if you don't feel like working that hard, the construction manager estimates that the project is at approximately 30% completion.


Although there is a construction timeline, it is too soon to know if it will hold. In construction there are these fun surprises called "unforeseen conditions." Those are all of the Easter eggs that hide inside the walls, under the ground, and beneath the floors that are impossible to know exist before construction starts. These unexpected revelations often throw a monkeywrench into even the most conservative schedule because they are never a gift, only a curse that causes delays. For that reason it would be premature to announce an opening date until we're through the phase of construction where these "unforeseen conditions" pop up like whack a moles.


The Unforeseen

When you are dealing with a building as old as Methuselah it is not a matter of if "unforeseen conditions" will arise, it is a matter of how many. Three months of construction have revealed some doozies.


There was the chimney hidden in the wall where the new electrical panel was to be placed. Thankfully that was taken care of relatively easily. The latest challenge involves plumbing and plank flooring. The plan was for plumbing work to start in mid November. Plumbing requires holes to be cut into the floor for drains and pipes. However, the plumber took one look at the floors on the west side of the building and said,

What gave the plumber pause? While the subfloors in the east side of the building are a sturdy slab of concrete on the ground, the subflooring in the western half is planks over a basement. Let's just say that once the top layer of tile was removed, it was obvious that when it came to flooring, the west side was not the best side.


With threadbare planks, obviously there are concerns about structural integrity.

GIF of man falling through the floor

So plumbing is on hold until the structual engineering team either says the floor is safe to cut or designs some reinforcement to make it sound.


In the Meantime

Even though plumbing is on hold, work continues. While framing and electrical continue indoors, the roofing and insulation began outdoors this week. Driving by 5713 West Chicago Avenue reveals new changes regularly.


Want to see the progress thus far? Take five and watch a tour of what's shaping up to be your new favorite grocery store.


How did you like the site tour? Can you envision the store yet? Drop us a comment about what you want to see at Forty Acres Fresh Market.

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