Friday, November 22, 2013

Future Englewood Whole Foods Market clears one hurdle

Aerial photo 63rd/Halsted
Whole Foods Market coming to Englewood has been in the news again lately. This time the Chicago Plan Commission has approved plans for the new store coming to 63rd & Halsted:
The Chicago Plan Commission approved the retail portion of a project anchored by Whole Foods on the northwest corner of 63rd and Halsted streets across from Kennedy-King College.

Englewood community leaders said the store will provide a “great sense of hope” for a neighborhood besieged by violence that has precious few healthy food choices.

The project depends on an $11 million city subsidy for site preparation that will require an expiring tax-increment financing district to be extended while money is “ported over” from a neighboring TIF.

The larger question is how Whole Foods plans to go about convincing Englewood residents that an upscale grocer can serve their needs at affordable prices. That will be the measure of success.
With that in mind, some articles I missed when the buzz surrounding this announcement was made.

First Crain's back in September published this op/ed about this Whole Foods being a game changer. A game changer as in this store could attract other high quality retailers or high quality development. Conclusion:
But Englewood does have its strengths, and its Whole Foods will be a new, smaller format geared to everyday essentials, a concept tested in Detroit and reportedly doing well — not surprising, since our 2007 study of Detroit found that nearly 92 percent of all SNAP retailers there were in the fringe category. Whole Foods has the potential to attract other quality retailers to Englewood and at the same time support local grass-roots efforts, such as urban agriculture and a food hub. The company's investment is risky, but it could yield high rewards. More than the addition of a super-high-quality grocery store, it could accelerate community transformation and create a ripple effect far greater than its own investment. This would be good for the market, economic development, job creation and public health.
Over at Chicago Now, Peter Bella wrote back in September about Englewood's history as it relates to Whole Foods coming to the neighborhood. Many who read this blog may be familiar with Englewood's history of being a prosperous middle-class community that went into decline. The concluding paragraph:
There is vacant land in Englewood. There are people who can be trained to work. With land and people there is hope. Other commercial, retail, and manufacturing entities should take a close look and Englewood. It could once again become the ladder to prosperity instead of the bottom rung of poverty and desperation.
While I won't excerpt at this, 2nd City Cop took a look at the news back in September. As per usual the comments there are anywhere from hilarious to absolutely brutal. I'll allow you to venture over their and feel free to chew them a new one if you don't approve of the comments.

Finally the above Google map was seen in an article from The Atlantic about the coming store also written in September and the concluding paragraph below:
It will be very interesting to see what happens next in Englewood. None of the Whole Foods I have ever been in – heavy on the $15 floral arrangements and cured meats – will work there. Maybe they spend less money offering free samples of fancy cheese? Maybe the prepared food section emphasizes no-frills dinners over sushi rolls? If Whole Foods does that, some people may equally criticize it for offering a substandard imitation of its flagship stores. But if big-box Target can wedge itself into urban neighborhoods, maybe Whole Foods can do the same with an entirely different income bracket.

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