Ever since Jubilee Foods closed its doors in 2006, Worthington residents have been hungry for a small, centrally located grocery store.
Enter, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.
The new specialty grocery chain plans to build a 26,000-square-foot grocery store at 933 High St., just north of North Street, next to Sprint Lube.
The 1970s-style, blue office building would be demolished and the new store built in its place. It would feature healthy and organic foods, including local produce, bulk items, a butcher shop, prepared foods, beer and wine, and vitamins and other natural items.
"It will be like a Whole Foods but a little more value-based," said Scott Nicholson of InSite Realty, the Chicago-based developer in charge of the project.
The opening is set for the third quarter of 2015, according to Pat Sauerland of InSite.
City officials have not received any applications but have been talking to the InSite representatives for several weeks.
"We do expect some sort of submittal in the next couple of weeks," Sauerland said.
They have been working with the city to put together plans that make sense for the grocery, the community and neighbors, Sauerland said.
Nearby neighbors will be invited to review plans and make comments before the plans go to the city, he said.
Plans must be approved by the Municipal Planning Commission, Architectural Review Board and City Council.
The developers will seek a PUD (planned-unit development) zoning, which includes details of the development plan. The property currently is zoned C-3 (offices).
City economic development director Jeff Harris said he is pleased with the quality of the developers and the plans as he has heard about them thus far.
He and other city leaders also are pleased that the city finally might get the grocery store that residents have wanted for many years.
"Ever since Jubilee closed, we have heard the community desire for a smaller specialty grocery either in or near Old Worthington," City Manager Matt Greeson said.
This makes more sense than the Giant Eagle that was proposed for the United Methodist Children's Home site two years ago. Those plans were withdrawn because of public disapproval.
"This will be much, much smaller than a Giant Eagle, a more appropriate size for the site," Greeson said. "It will be more in keeping with what the community wants and in closer proximity to what the community wants."
Fresh Thyme also will open a store in the former Borders bookstore, 6700 Sawmill Road, later this year. The company plans to open more than 60 stores in the Midwest over the next five years, according to a press release from Fresh Thyme. The first is set to open in Mt. Prospect, Ill., this spring.