Whole Foods is going urban.
The mega upscale grocer is moving into the underserved community of Englewood, Chicago. Englewood just south of Chicago, one of several underserved communities, but community leaders feel that this will be a great addition to the neighborhood.
Despite the violent reputation, for many, there are few options when it comes to healthy eating, and Whole Foods could very well fill a large part of that gap.
The question many seem to be asking is; can an upscale grocer like Whole Foods deliver the message that it is first, affordable, and second, it can meet the needs of the community?
Bridget Jones, vice president of strategic operations for Whole Foods, says that they are already approaching this with the same methods and processes they used in Detroit.
She said, “We’ve been listening in the community about what their needs are for fresh and healthy foods. We also teach classes on how to shop on a budget and healthy eating basics. We’re going to partner with Kennedy-King College to use their facility before the store is built to host those classes. . . .That will be the way that we’ll build the clientele.”
Additionally, Jones shared that Whole Foods has process of valuation called, “365,” a competitive pricing process with the surrounding supermarkets, assuring that affordability should not be the challenge.
“We think it’s going to work based on the success we’ve had in Detroit and based on what we’ve heard from the community about how they are looking for healthy and fresh food options,” said Jones.
Joann Thompson, Alderman of the 16th Ward, has no doubts that the new store will be a huge hit in the community.
“I visited the Detroit store. I went there to see for myself. The store is priced very well. People will be able to afford it,” she said. The Alderman also mentioned that currently, people are traveling over 3o blocks to get to the nearest Whole Foods, which is in the South Loop on Roosevelt.
This project isn’t scheduled to be completed until the end of 2015. Developer of the construction site, David Doig, said that this deal relies largely on TIF dollars, Tax Increment Financing, that is currently set to expire. The project will be a combination of two TIF’s, the Englwood Mall TIF and the Englewood neighborhood TIF equaling $11 million.
Seems that Whole Foods is doing a good thing for the community, but with the date of completion 2 years away, one might be inclined to think whether it will actually come to fruition.