CHICAGO (Sept. 4, 2013) – Whole Foods Market today joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Jo Ann Thompson to announce that Whole Foods Market will open a store in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The 18,000 square-foot store will bring an estimated 100 jobs to the intersection of South Halsted and West 63rd Streets and provide convenient access to fresh, healthy natural and organic food for residents of Englewood and South Side neighborhoods. DL3, led by Leon Walker, will be responsible for the development of the property.
Partnering with Whole Foods Market to bring a full-service grocery store with healthy and affordable options into the Englewood community is part of Mayor Emanuel’s economic development and food access plans, which includes efforts to work with the community and local businesses to develop the areas surrounding the new Whole Foods Market.
Mayor Emanuel met with CEOs of major grocery chains early in his administration to make the business case for these stores to move into communities lacking in options. Whole Foods was interested in the Englewood community and over the course of the last year and a half has worked with the Mayor’s office to make this store a reality. Additionally, he has been working extensively with Ald. Thompson for a plan to develop and revitalize the Englewood community through Chicago Neighborhoods Now.
“I have worked with Whole Foods Market for the last year and a half to invest in one of our oldest neighborhoods and address a pressing need for fresh, healthy food, and I’m proud to announce this wonderful new facility that will help meet this need while creating a strong economic anchor in this community,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I am completely committed to ensuring that all Chicagoans have access to fresh, quality and affordable food in their neighborhoods. This store will not only provide these important resources, but it will also create jobs and spur economic growth — a true win-win.”
Slated to open in 2016, the 18,000 square-foot store is part of a 13-acre development located at a four-way intersection near Kennedy King Community College. The available space surrounding the Whole Foods Market will be explored for a variety of potential uses, with strong retail potential. All parties share the vision that the new Whole Foods Market will be a catalyst for further development of that area.
“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. We look forward to joining organizations and community members to envision and develop a store that meets the needs of Englewood,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “We believe that fresh, healthy food choices along with information and education about food should be accessible for all communities. We hope that our efforts on Chicago’s South Side and in other communities across the country, combined with the work of others, will help make a meaningful impact on the health of our nation.”
The retail portion of the site is being developed by DL3. There is a strong expectation that the presence of a Whole Foods Market at that site will spur significant interest in the other property in the development; likewise, the development of that property is expected to spur a lot of interest and traffic to the Whole Foods Market. Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives has submitted a TIF application to receive assistance to develop the entire site, including install necessary infrastructure for the Whole Foods Market site.
The Englewood neighborhood is one of the seven neighborhoods being targeted by Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Neighborhoods Now program. There are more than $363 million in public and private investments in greater Englewood. These investments are helping establish one of the nation’s largest urban agricultural districts, expanding industrial and housing opportunities, and coordinating open space development throughout the community.
The opening of this new Whole Foods Market will have an additional positive impact as part of the Mayor’s efforts to combat food deserts on the South Side of Chicago. When this store opens, 2,648 more residents in Englewood will be within a mile of a grocery store – which will mean a 3.3 percent decline in the total residents living in low-income areas who are more than a mile from a large grocery store. Additionally, this new store will bring another high-quality full-scale grocery option to all the residents of Englewood – a major step forward for economic development for the area and of course healthy food availability, providing a new, high quality option for the approximately 30,000 residents of Englewood.
Whole Foods Market currently employs 2,195 team members who reside in Chicago and has 18 stores with three under development including the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago and Lake Forest and Park Ridge, Ill. In 2012, the company contributed more than $750,000 in donations and 50,000 community service hours to local organizations and community initiatives. The company has been featured on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for 16 consecutive years.
“Whole Foods Market has been in Chicago since 1993 and we are excited to serve more neighborhoods as we open our first store on the City’s South Side,” said Michael Bashaw, regional president for the Midwest region of Whole Food Market. “We have been looking to expand further south for many years and this new store will help offer more Chicagoans fresh, high quality foods right in their neighborhood. We’re excited to work together with the city and local community long before we open our actual doors to build a custom store that meets the needs of Englewood.”
Whole Foods Market’s Chicago stores have supported nonprofits and community organizations in Englewood including Fresh Moves and Growing Home for several years, and the company is currently expanding its relationships with local producers and suppliers, schools and government officials. Whole Kids Foundation, the company’s nonprofit dedicated to improving childhood nutrition through school salad bars, gardens, and nutrition education classes for teachers, will direct $20,000 in funding to support schools and community organizations in the Englewood area. Additionally, the foundation will make its free Healthy Teacher nutrition education and cooking program available to educators in Englewood and citywide. The company also plans to help local business and entrepreneurs through its Local Producer Loan Program and Whole Planet Foundation, which provides microcredit loans.
“When we come to a new community, our first step involves listening to the wants and needs of our future shoppers, which is why we’re excited to start building meaningful relationships with existing neighborhood organizations now. We will host free educational classes on healthy eating and nutrition, shopping on a budget and cooking demonstrations with the hope of making our store a true community partner and a trusted resource for quality natural and organic foods, and health and wellness information,” added Bashaw.
This announcement is another step in the City’s comprehensive plan towards eliminating food deserts and increasing access to healthy foods for residents across Chicago. Since the beginning of Mayor Emanuel’s administration, he has taken numerous steps as part of this ongoing commitment, including the launch of “Farmers for Chicago,” a program that will make available up to five acres of City-owned vacant lots for urban farming activities and help expand the supply chain for local neighborhood-level food production and wholesale. The City also expanded community gardens and urban farms to increase resident access to fresh produce, while creating green jobs throughout Chicago neighborhoods.
The City of Chicago continues to work with a number of businesses and organizations to solve food deserts. In 2011, Mayor Emanuel convened a food desert summit with the CEOs of major grocery chains in Chicago to ask them to build stories in food deserts and increase healthy food options. That same year, the City hosted a pre-planning workshop with stakeholders from the community health, neighborhood development and urban growing sectors. Mayor Emanuel also announced Walgreens’ initiative to build more than a dozen new stores, include fresh produce in 39 existing stores currently in food deserts, while creating 300 new jobs in those communities.
The Emanuel Administration has made an annual investment of $750,000 in transitional programs with Chicago nonprofits in the urban agriculture sector, including innovative social enterprises such as Beeline Beauty Products in urban beekeeping, and Neighbor Carts, which distributes fresh produce in food deserts. Mayor Emanuel remains committed to adopting innovation solutions that will increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure Chicagoans have the food options they need to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Mayor’s Press Office – 312.744.3334