CHICAGO — Despite community-wide backlash, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is defending the decision to partner with an out-of-town grocery group.

Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th Ward) is among many in the Englewood community that are deeply unhappy with the new tenant planning to open a Save A Lot store at 63rd & Halsted, where Whole Foods used to reside.

“I did not receive the official announcement. I only heard whispers,” said 16th Ward Alderwoman Stephanie Coleman. “There was little to no transparency on who the options were.”

Coleman pointed to what she says is overwhelming dissatisfaction in Englewood with the new plan.

“I was disappointed,” said Adrienne Powell, among the residents WGN News found unhappy about a new Save A Lot store going.

“I was disappointed when they closed,” Powell said of Whole Food’s closing last year. “I got my seafood out of there.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she talked to community partners and city alderpersons about the lingering problem of food deserts.

“We’ve got to be about the business of solving problems,” Lightfoot said. “We had no takers. That is just the truth.”

The mayor and her team faced enormous challenges finding a replacement in Englewood. 

“We worked tirelessly to talk to all the other food and grocery store chains across the city and urged them to take a look at the community,” Lightfoot said.

City Hall announced $13.5 million in tax increment financing to grocery group Yellow Banana, the black-owned grocer in other Midwest cities, to operate a Save A Lot store in Englewood.  

The city is focusing on other under-served Chicago neighborhoods, the mayor says, on the Southside and elsewhere. 

“We’ve got to solve the problem. The need for affordable food options in that community,” Lightfoot said. “And I think that this Yellow Banana-led Save A Lot is going to do that.”