Chicago real estate guru and former retailer dies

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Chicago Clifford Johnson, 85, Jewel Cos. real estate veteran, died July 9 at his home in Arlington Heights, Ill., according to his son Glenn Johnson, director of design, architecture and engineering for Westchester, Ill.-based TriLand Properties.

Johnson worked for Jewel Cos. for 37 years and ascended to the title of executive VP real estate, construction and development. He was responsible for and oversaw the growth and development of the multiple companies under the Jewel corporate umbrella and was regarded as one of the premier retail real estate executives in the United States during the 1960’s -1980’s.

Johnson was instrumental in the acquisitions of Eisner Foods Stores and Osco Drug, which helped drive the Jewel’s expansion from the small standalone store concept in the 1950’s to the Jewel-Osco combination stores during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. He was also involved with the acquisition and development of other Jewel retail concept initiatives during this time frame including TurnStyle, White Hen Pantries, the Jewel Grand Bazaar and Republic Lumber.

Upon Jewel Cos.’ acquisition by American Stores in 1984, he was retained by the new owners to provide guidance for the transition, finally retiring from American Stores in 1986.