Upper Arlington News

Shops on Lane Avenue

Whole Foods expansion '90 percent' complete

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The approximately 35,000-square-foot expansion of the Whole Foods Market at the Shops on Lane Avenue is roughly one month from completion, city officials say.

Upper Arlington Community and Economic Development Manager Bob Lamb this week said Whole Foods, which launched efforts to expand its store at 1649 W. Lane Ave., is nearing the conclusion of its project.

"I believe they will be open in the next 30 to 45 days," Lamb said last week. "They are conducting (a) final round of inspections and once the (city's) development department signs off on their completion, they will be able to move forward with opening.

"I would say that they are 90 percent complete concerning construction items, if not more. I think they will be open by March at the latest, and maybe sometime in February."

Whole Foods initiated the expansion of its Upper Arlington store, which originally totaled about 53,000 square feet, in September 2010.

That's when Upper Arlington's Board of Zoning and Planning approved development plans for which called for replacement of Whole Foods' 22,000-square-foot structure -- including an unused second floor -- with a new, 35,000-square-foot building and an 836-space parking lot.

A company representative this week would not confirm the projected end date of the expansion project, saying a statement about the Upper Arlington store was impending.

"We plan to make an announcement regarding the new store later this week," said Defausha Hampton, a Whole Foods spokeswoman. "At this time, certain details and information you're requesting are still coming together.

"What I can share with you is that the new store will offer added amenities and full-service departments as well as exciting features."

Lamb said city officials haven't been provided details of how the expansion will impact products and services offered at the local Whole Foods, but added, "It is our understanding that they will be expanding services at this location and will be carrying a greater amount of goods."

In 2007, Whole Foods purchased Wild Oats, the company that previously operated a market at the Lane Avenue site.

Whole Foods opened its Upper Arlington market, which previously offered organic foods cultivated and sold to the store by many local growers and vendors, in 2008.

Lamb said he didn't know if the local Whole Foods will add employees following the completion of the expansion, but said the Whole Foods project, as well as other continued development within the Lane Avenue Community Entertainment District, should yield some new tax revenue for the city.

"This project will increase revenue to the city through enhanced payroll tax and a likely increase in the property value of the center," he said. "Further, there are studies that show residential and commercial property values increase when Whole Foods, or similar establishments, are constructed within close proximity of their location.

"The city supports this project and is excited to see continuing investment along Lane Avenue. This project, along with the new hotel and mixed-use building (in the CED), will bring new and enhanced amenities to the city's residents. The city is glad to see current property owners reinvesting in their property and bringing new businesses and jobs to the community."

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