Historic Uptown Gerber building transforms from train stop to community market

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For almost 100 years the Gerber building has remained an icon in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.

Now that it's been restored, thanks to the CTA Red and Purple Modernization, the building has taken on a new life. Transitioning from a train stop to a cooperative market.

"A food co-op is a community-owned grocery store which literally means that people, you and I, buy a share in a store and we own it," said Greg Berlowitz, Chicago Market founder.

"So the basic premise is that we all share ownership," owner Samantha Sainsbury said. "We share some amount of responsibilities and then we share the benefits of it."

The concept for the Chicago Market started around 2012, but things didn't really start moving until 2014.

"You're all volunteers, you're working through how to build an organization, spending a long time finding a space. We finally found this space and then it was a yearlong bidding process with the CTA. It just takes a long time to get these things started," Berlowitz said.

Now five years later, Berlowitz and a little more than 1,700 community members have come together and almost reached their goal.

"We're building this community hub, this grocery store, this job center together and so if you're a member of this community and you value these things this is a chance to invest in your community," said Grant Kessler, Chicago Market Board President.

Once open, Chicago Market will be one of two food co-ops in Chicago city limits. Right now, Dill Pickle in Logan Square is the only one.

The market will have a cafe, a grab and go aisle and of course, fresh and local produce.

Berlowitz said the market will also try to break away from the mold of the traditional big-box grocery stores that also line Broadway.

"A part of our mission has always been how to distinguish ourselves," he said. "We decided apart of that is by being a visually appealing store. Because it's not just a grey rectangular building it's not a big building at the end of a parking lot like most grocery stores. It's unique - it's unique for uptown it's unique for us."

Owners still aren't sure when the market will open just yet, but they hope customers will be able to start shopping sometime in 2020.

To learn more about the Chicago Market, ownership opportunities or events, click here.
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