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Neighbors In Hyde Park, Kenwood Concerned After Michael’s Fresh Market Bankruptcy

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Michael's Fresh Market

Michael’s Fresh Market has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to reorganize. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The bankruptcy of Michael’s Fresh Market has drawn concerns about the store that stepped in to fill a vacancy in the South Kenwood neighborhood, after the Hyde Park Co-Op had left the site vacant for years.

Michael’s Fresh Market, which operates several stores in the Chicago area, filed for bankruptcy reorganization last week. The store blames a freeze by its lender, Premier Bank of Wilmette, which has been operating under restrictions imposed by regulators, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The company tells the Tribune it expects to reorganize. Nearly all of its stores are profitable and have a loyal customer base, but the company simply has been hurt by the troubles at its lending bank, the newspaper reported.

There have been no reports of plans to close any stores.

The company operates a popular store at 1300 E. 47th St., in the Lake Pointe Park shopping center, which it took over in the summer of 2010 – about five years after the Hyde Park Co-Op Market vacated the site.

When the store opened, the blog Hyde Park Progress called it “something between Village Foods and Treasure Island,” featuring sections set aside for Indian and East Asian foods and a taqueria just through the front door.

But with the company’s bankruptcy announcement, the blog called the 47th Street location “accursed” for grocery stores.

Some neighbors also left comments expressing concern for the store.

“It’s a decent grocery and an employer in an area that can use both. I hope they find another lender,” one blog reader wrote.

The Hyde Park Co-Op opened its 47th Street store in 1999, only to close it six years later. In the time it was open, it made headlines for two high-profile armed robberies – including a 2001 incident in which six store employees bound with duct tape and held hostage as the robbers took more than $70,000, and another incident two years later where the robbers took $40,000, the Hyde Park Herald recalled.

In January 2008, the entire Hyde Park Co-Op – which was owned jointly by community residents – went out of business. The Co-Op had been formed during the Great Depression so its members could save money by buying in bulk, and it later opened a retail store, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference recalled.

But amid severe financial difficulties, its members voted in January 2008 to shut it down, and Treasure Island took over the University of Chicago-owned store at 1526 E. 55th St. that the Co-Op had operated since 1959.

In addition to the Hyde Park location, the family-owned Michael’s Fresh Market also operates a store at 856 S. Route 59 in Naperville. It also operates the Harvey Fresh Market in Harvey, the North Avenue Fresh Market in Oak Park, and the Mayfair Market on the Northwest Side.

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