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CHICAGO-Seattle-based Starbucks will open its first coffee shop in a predominantly African-American community in this city, and just the second in a vast area south of Roosevelt Road and east of the Dan Ryan Expressway. The green giant of coffee chains will lease a 1,620-sf store at 7101 S. Stony Island Ave. from BMG Stony Island LLC, an entity that includes retail owner and developer Terraco Inc. and Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s Los Angeles-based development company.

Despite a traffic count of 55,000 cars a day on Stony Island Ave. as well as another 13,000 on 71st Street, the South Shore location was a hard sell for the upscale coffee purveyor, which also will get a drive-through facility. Although the increasingly thriving community has been clamoring for a Starbucks, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston says residents were told it was highly unlikely.

However, $225,000 in tax increment financing, recommended last week by the community development commission, is helping make the $1.4-million project possible. “Without TIF income, the developer would likely not proceed with this project,” says department of planning and development project manager Lisa Hope-Washington.

Starbucks is embarking on a “pioneering effort,” Lisa Hope-Washington adds. The company’s nearest location is in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and talks are underway about a second store there. Meanwhile, Starbucks’ two other “urban coffee opportunities” in the city involving Johnson’s company includes a store at 47th Street and Cicero Avenue.

The alternative to Starbucks at 71st Street and Stony Island Avenue would be lesser quality retail uses, Hope-Washington says. As it is, the 16,000-sf site at a prominent South Shore corner has its drawbacks posed by its close proximity to Metra commuter rail tracks as well as a LaSalle Bank branch, the community development commission was told. Both will help drive up the cost of building the drive-through facility.

BMG Stony Island, LLC acquired the property four years ago for $290,000, according to property records. It has since refinanced the property for double the purchase price. Two years before BMG Stony Island bought the property, it had been sold at a sheriff’s sale, property records indicate.

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