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NIMBY Nonsense Continues At Lakeview Whole Foods Meetings

By Jim Bochnowski in News on May 12, 2015 6:05PM

Lakeview's latest neighborhood eyesore could be a new Whole Foods Market, according to some unhappy residents.

One hundred opinionated Lakeview residents shared their concerns about a proposed new neighborhood Whole Foods with Michael Bashaw, the head of Whole Foods' Midwest Division, Monday evening at the Mystic Celt.

The grocery giant's current Lakeview store, at 3300 N. Ashland Ave. opened in 1996 and is 31,500 square-foot—a speck compared to the labyrinthine, 79,000 square-foot Whole Foods located near North Avenue. That is why the company plans on opening up a 75,000 square-foot store one block away, at 3201 N. Ashland Ave. The building will feature 300 parking spots on the first floor and the basement, and a full store on the second story.

Needless to say, some members of the community are not ecstatic about the prospect.

Speaking for the Melrose Street Concerned Residents, Tricey Morelli summed up the fears of the locals:

"Subconsciously, you see a big building like this and there's no windows into the building, so it makes you think, like, 'Why aren't there windows on the main floor? Are they fearful that someone's going to bash the windows? Is there going to be crime?' It kind of almost makes it look a little bit like a mean street."

This woman is speaking about a Whole Foods store in Lakeview, which has us confused. Are there roving bands of recent college graduates and moms with strollers running around, smashing windows and defacing property? We certainly can't discount the possibility.

To his credit, Bashaw did not start laughing uncontrollably when listening to their complaints. He said, "We tried to design this and think about the concerns and minimize them wherever possible, but we'd still like to be able to operate a supermarket, and this is what we need to do that."

But a large grocery store being greeted with resistance within a neighborhood isn't exactly a new phenomenon. Look at the Wicker Park residents who are still waiting for their Trader Joe's. Is it ever possible for a business to move into a neighborhood without making someone angry? These are the questions that will plague local developers for eons to come.