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HAMMOND -- The Dominick's grocery store on 165th Street will apparently close

its doors less than seven months after its opening was touted as a cornerstone

of the city's efforts to boost business in the Woodmar Mall area.

An employee at the store, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that her

supervisor told her that Dominick's will be closing Aug. 25. Store personnel

attended a 9 a.m. meeting Tuesday where the closing was announced. The

employee, who was not present at the meeting, called the store to learn what

had happened.

"A lady in customer service verified (Dominick's) is closing," the employee

said.

About 300 people work at the store.

A manager at the store declined to comments and officials of Dominick's

regional office in Chicago did not return telephone messages seeking comment.

Mayor Duane Dedelow Jr. was out of town Tuesday and unavailable for comment.

"I cannot release the information I've got without talking to him," said Dennis

Terry, the mayor's chief of staff.

City Councilman McKinley Nutall, D-3rd, who represents the district around the

store, said he had heard rumors Tuesday about the store closing but "it was

from an unreliable source," he said. "I haven't had the chance to confirm it."

A grand-opening banner still flies over the Dominick's sign at the front of the

store at 1724 165th St. A walk through the store found no evidence of any

displays or products being removed.

The employee said Dominick's has offered to relocate every employee that would

be out of work with the closing. The closest stores to Hammond are in Calumet

City and Lansing. The Dominick's at U.S. 41 and 30 in Schererville closed in

January and more than 200 employees were offered transfers to the new Hammond

store.

"We have to give them our first three choices in stores," the employee said.

"But they wouldn't guarantee us our first choice. I don't want to travel.

"It's just a shame. They didn't give the store much of a chance."

Dominick's opened its new Fresh Store on 165th Street just west of Woodmar Mall

on Jan. 28. The 90,000-square-foot food store, built on a portion of a 32-acre

parcel, received a $1.2 million property tax abatement over 10 years because

the city expected it to breathe life into the area and the mall, which has been

struggling with vacancies.

The grocery chain, a division of Pleasonton, Calif.,-based Safeway Inc., first

moved into Lake County in 1991 when it opened a warehouse-type, value-priced

Omni store in Schererville. That store was part of the conversion of 17 Omni

stores to the more upscale Dominick's Fresh Store in October 1997.

After 16 months in Schererville, Dominick's decided to abandon southern Lake

County for the Hammond location.

Times Staff Writer Dan Fields contributed to this report.

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