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Whole Foods To Build Store In Englewood

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Sep 4, 2013 2:00PM

A rendering of the planned Englewood Whole Foods. (Image credit: City of Chicago)

Hey, Englewood! You’re getting a Whole Foods! Mayor Emanuel’s office will announce a planned Whole Foods Market at 63rd and Halsted Streets at a Wednesday news conference. The 18,000 square foot store will be located near Kennedy-King College and a Green Line “L” stop and serve as the anchor for a 13-acre retail development.

Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said he relishes the challenge to bring a Whole Foods to one of the most economically depressed neighborhoods in Chicago.

Here’s what Robb said in a statement (via DNAInfo Chicago):

“We are honored and excited to be asked by Mayor Emanuel to join in these efforts to make fresh, healthy food more widespread in Chicago. His challenge to me last April helped us to consider new business models to provide fresh food and economic development in neighborhoods that need it most," Robb said.

"We look forward to joining organizations and community members to envision and develop a store that meets the needs of Englewood,” said Robb.

Robb told the Sun-Times, “It’s been our purpose to bring healthier foods to the world,” he said. “We realize it’s probably a stretch in your readers’ minds. But so what? Stretch is good.”

Developer DL3 will receive tax increment funds from Chicago Neighborhoods Now initiative, which has our heads spinning this morning because this is the type of project on which TIF funds should be allocated. Second, it addresses Emanuel’s campaign promise to fight food insecurity in Chicago, this time without fudging the numbers.

Whole Foods building a store in a ghetto is newsworthy on its own and the longer “stretch” for Robb will be convincing residents in the neighborhood to spend money at the store when it opens in 2016. Englewood resident Adrian Brown told DNAInfo, "A loaf of bread at Aldi, wheat or white, costs about 50 cents, but at Whole Foods it's nearly $2. I spend about $500 a month buying groceries at Aldi for my family, and it lasts the entire month," Brown said. "But I'll bet $500 won't go far at Whole Foods."

It sure won’t but the fresh fruit—and meat— at an Aldi pales in comparison to what one will find at Whole Foods. The company also has a history of partnering with local nonprofits like Growing Home to promote better nutrition and community outreach. So it looks as though everyone involved will have some learning ahead of them.