CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yellow Banana, the owner and operator of eight Save A Lot locations in the Chicagoland area, today announced the March 31, 2023 closing of a $26.5 million investment into grocery stores on the South and West Sides of Chicago. This transaction marks the next step in Yellow Banana’s ongoing commitment to underserved communities throughout the City of Chicago and the U.S. The investment combines a $13.5 million Community Development Grant that the City previously awarded to Yellow Banana in July 2022 with New Markets Tax Credits, third-party financing and funding from Yellow Banana.
Through this project, Yellow Banana will make comprehensive upgrades to its existing Chicago stores as well as re-open a former Save A Lot, at 7908 S. Halsted in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, that closed in 2020. The transaction further underscores Yellow Banana’s continued efforts to partner with major U.S. cities in providing access to affordable nutrition in underserved communities, and comes as Walmart announces the permanent closure of four of its longstanding locations on Chicago’s South and West Sides.
Yellow Banana is owned by 127 Wall, which was co-founded by Michael Nance, Ademola Adewale-Sadik and Walker Brumskine. The three met while earning JDs from Yale Law School; Adewale-Sadik and Brumskine also earned MBAs from Harvard Business School. They are joined by seasoned operator and 127 Wall co-founder Joseph Canfield. Yellow Banana owns and operates nearly 40 stores in Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Jacksonville and Dallas, and seeks to be partner of choice for municipalities working to find solutions to food insecurity across the U.S.
The capital investments will be used to acquire the underlying real estate at five of Yellow Banana’s existing Chicago stores and at the Auburn Gresham site. Yellow Banana will then complete a comprehensive internal and external redevelopment at each location, including new flooring, lighting, equipment, HVAC, dairy and meat cases, interior and exterior paint, décor, fixtures and signage. The remodels will commence this spring and conclude over the next 12 months, during which time Yellow Banana will also re-open the store in Auburn Gresham.
“Where people grow up or live should not determine their access to healthy, affordable food options,” said Michael Nance. “We look forward to providing residents on Chicago’s South and West Sides with a repositioned, quality grocery experience, and we are eager to engage with them as we determine the appropriate offerings for these locations. We understand that local engagement and collaboration will make these stores a success.”
“Yellow Banana’s triple commercial mandate is to deliver food access, job creation and economic development to our customers, colleagues and communities,” said Ademola Adewale-Sadik. “Transforming these six sites into the community anchor tenants that these neighborhoods deserve will attract much-needed commercial activity over both the short and long terms, and this doubling down of our commitment to Chicago is in keeping with our mandate.”
“Yellow Banana has been brainstorming ways in which to breathe new life into the Save A Lot brand in Chicago ever since we first purchased the stores in 2021,” said Joseph Canfield. “Countless professionals from dozens of organizations worked tirelessly to secure this investment and help deliver the shopping experience that hard-working Chicagoans deserve. This collaboration demonstrates our company’s commitment to providing quality, affordable, healthy groceries to the communities in which we operate.”
“We are excited about Yellow Banana’s commitment to reshape the in-store experience for Save A Lot customers throughout the city's South and West Sides,” said Save A Lot CEO Leon Bergmann. “The enhancements under way will ensure Chicagoans can continue to access fresh foods and quality brands at affordable prices for many years to come.”
Squire Patton Boggs, DLA Piper and Federman Steifman acted as legal counsel to Yellow Banana, and the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives Group (CNI) served as Yellow Banana’s New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) advisors. Q2 Real Estate provided real estate development services to Yellow Banana. US Bank provided NMTC equity for the project, leveraging both its own NMTC allocation along with NMTC allocation provided by Southside Community Optimal Redevelopment Enterprise, LLC and Chicago Development Fund. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Capital Impact Partners provided third-party financing, and Untamed Equity, LLC provided a bridge loan secured by the City of Chicago’s grant.
About 127 Wall Holdings, LLC
127 Wall supports promising entrepreneurs and businesses by delivering the thoughtful capital and operational insight that they need in order to effectively scale. Our flexible investment mandate allows us to provide solutions across the transaction spectrum, from retiring owner-operators in need of complete exits to expanding businesses seeking accelerated growth. Learn more at www.one27wall.com.
About Yellow Banana, LLC
Yellow Banana is a retail grocery platform that operates 38 stores under the Save A Lot banner across the Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Jacksonville and Dallas metropolitan areas. Founded in 2021, Yellow Banana endeavors to deliver essential nutrition to working families at affordable prices. Learn more at www.yellow-banana.com.
About Save A Lot
Founded in 1977, Save A Lot is one of the largest discount grocery store chains in the U.S., with over 800 stores in 32 states. Save A Lot remains true to its mission of being a hometown grocer, providing outstanding quality and value to local families. Customers enjoy significant savings compared to traditional grocery stores on great tasting, high quality private label brands, national brand products, USDA-inspected meat, farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, and other non-food items. For more information visit www.SaveALot.com and follow Save A Lot on Facebook (facebook.com/savealot) and Instagram, or for more information on becoming a Save A Lot independent retail operator visit www.ownasavealot.com.