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Whole Foods considers 2nd local location

David Larter August 22, 2012 27


An upscale grocery chain with one store in the region has toured a property on Broad Street for a possible second Richmond location.

Shane Parr of Sauer Properties — a real estate development firm associated with the spice company C.F. Sauer — confirmed that Whole Foods is looking at retail space, including at the former Virginia Department of Taxation building, which Sauer Properties bought this year.

“We’re in the very early stages with the Department of Taxation building,” Parr said. “But we’re marketing it to a number of big retailers, and Whole Foods is one of them.”

Parr said a representative from Whole Foods has toured the site. Whole Foods, which did not return several calls and emails seeking comment, has one store in Richmond at Short Pump.

Whole Foods has been expanding rapidly nationwide. According to its third-quarter earnings report, the public company will have opened 25 new stores by the end of the year. Sales were $2.7 billion in the third quarter, up 14 percent from last year.

Whole Foods has 329 stores occupying 12.5 million square feet of retail space, according to the report. They have nine stores in the commonwealth, the bulk of which are in Northern Virginia. A Virginia Beach store is slated to open in October.

Sauer Properties bought the Department of Taxation building in May for $4 million but did not say at the time what it envisioned. Virginia Tax vacated the building, near the intersection of Meadow and Broad streets, in fall 2009. The building was once home to the Stephen Putney Shoe Company.

It is unclear whether Whole Foods or another retailer would use the building’s shell in a tax credit deal or would knock it down for a built-to-suit location.

Andy Hofheimer, a broker with Regency Centers and the tenant representative for Whole Foods in Central Virginia, declined to comment on the property.

“We’re always evaluating proposals for new locations,” Hofheimer said. “Whole Foods has a great respect for the market in Virginia, and I’m always open to hearing new ideas.”

Hofheimer would not comment on where else in the city the grocer was looking.

If Whole Foods were to put a store on the Sauer property, it would reach both the Fan and the affluent Near West End neighborhoods. The two neighborhoods combined have almost 45,000 residents with a median household income of more than $50,000, according to City-Data.com.

Parr, with Sauer Properties, said the building is well located because of its position between Belvidere Street and the Boulevard.

“The things VCU has done over the past several years has really morphed this area,” Parr said. “Anything that connects you to the interstate is always a good thing, and Belvidere does that. You’ve got the Boulevard that connects us to the Northside and the Fan. So it’s definitely a good area.”

A planned development at the former Interbake cookie factory at the corner of Boulevard and Broad Streets also calls for a retail component. Rob Hargett, a co-founder of the Rebkee Companies, said he thought the development would be a good location for a grocer as well.

“We haven’t submitted any proposals yet for the retail space, but we’ve laid out some stuff in-house,” he said. “I think it would be a good grocery site, a good fitness site. We’ve been looking at the possibility of some [smaller retailers] at the site as well.”

If Whole Foods were to enter the downtown market, it would face some new competition in Richmond. Fresh Market is slated to open at Carytown Place in September. That grocer also has a store off Parham Road near Regency Square.

 

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27 Comments »

  1. D August 22, 2012 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Somebody please tell this company that Richmond does not end at the river and that West End like money does exist on southside.

    • Jay August 22, 2012 at 7:53 am - Reply

      It doesn’t?

      I thought that mass of land on the distant shores of the Mighty James was this enigmatic and mysterious place I’ve heard referred to as Chesterfield County. Rumor has it, cannibalism is still practiced over there. I don’t know, I’ve never been.

  2. Jay August 22, 2012 at 7:57 am - Reply

    They should turn this into a Sweet Frog-themed indoor amusemant park.

    Like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

  3. D August 22, 2012 at 8:01 am - Reply

    Please come to the Southside. We would love to have a Whole Foods in the Bon Air area.

  4. Mariane Jorgenson August 22, 2012 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Southside money is west of Huguenot, so it might as well be on another planet.

  5. Mar August 22, 2012 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Oh please!!
    I dream of a grocery store coming into the city with such quality, selection, yet none of the snootiness of Ellwood’s.

  6. southside August 22, 2012 at 8:49 am - Reply

    We need food on the south side of the James. Our neighborhoods of Woodland Heights, Manchester, Forest Hill, and all the places just south of the city desire better access to a grocery store. With the numerous apartment buildings going up and the anxiety of the neighborhood to have more places to buy groceries and grab a meal I promise there is support for such a place in our area. The large old tobacco warehouses at Cowardin and Semmes are for sale and would be a perfect place for a grocery store. Please help us.

  7. Chris Terrell August 22, 2012 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Everyone knows the drill by now. If it is new and cool it is going to arrive in the West End first, and maybe a second location in Chesterfield if it has staying power. Price Club / Costco was the exception to the rule if memory serves me. One of these days we will get an Apple Store and a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s, etc. Of course, they will lose their cool status the moment they cross the river…. ;-)

  8. Stuart Squier August 22, 2012 at 9:14 am - Reply

    It’s kinda eerie how all the grocery stores are aggregating about this one part of Richmond. Maybe it is a symptom of the suburbanization of the city and our mandatory motoring program. The proximity of “consumers” to the retailer is not important to the site selection, instead they must only look at where consumption is already occurring in an established market and only consider sites in that area. The outcome is grocery retail sprawl in one area, food deserts in many other areas.

  9. Steve Heffernan August 22, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    What we really need is a Trader Joe’s in the Shockoe area. With all the warehouse housing there must be thousands of customers willing to shop.

  10. mike August 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Please, please, please get whole foods or trader joe’s in the space. It would be a huge win for residents and the city. Can you imagine how busy that store would be with the demographics in the local area? Would love to shop at TJ’s or WF more, but just don’t have time to make the drive. Driving 20 minutes each way (with parking) is not going to happen often. If either goes into this location, I’ll happily patronize the location.

  11. Mike August 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    jeez southside folks sound desperate. The $$ demographics in this area with the Fan, Windsor Farms>Cary St. Road corridor, Near West End, is some of the best in the region. Add to that the density and you’ve got a winner for this place.

    Most of the riff raff on this stretch comes from the empty bakery complex…soon to be under development…and the corner of Allen and broad at the old Sears building. Why is it OK to sit there and get drunk, deal drugs, and pass out on the sidewalk…leaving a big mess of trash? I wave to them as I visit Lowes.

    Bring on more Big Box retail!!! Broad street is ripe for it! Best Buy/HH Greg or whatever electronics retailer is needed also.

    Note to Southside: you moved there because it was cheaper than similar ‘burb subdivisions in Henrico. See how this works?

    • Jim August 23, 2012 at 5:58 am - Reply

      The highest income zipcode is in Midlothian – as published by Richmond Bizsense in their list section.

      • Brett August 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm - Reply

        Shhhh, Jim, you are upsetting the West Enders with your facts.

      • Jay August 23, 2012 at 4:26 pm - Reply

        2 of the top 3, in fact.

      • Mike August 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm - Reply

        Avg. Income? That is not wealth my friend. There is probably more wealth in the Windsor Farms neighborhood alone than the entire County of Chesterfield. 150 to200k a year after entering a mortgage on that 1-side brick, 3-sides of vinyle midlothian special cookie cutter, the budget would already be tight after uncle sam and family bills.

        Whole foods is not going to the south side for a reason. Zip code lists of average income mean nothing relative to wealth. You bought in chesterfield because it was cheap. Otherwise, you would be on the river road corridor with your kids going to tuckahoe schools or collegiate if you wanted private. Im a City guy myself so neither one appeals to me. But lets not pretend like the metro areas wealth is on the south side.

        • Jay August 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm - Reply

          You make a good point but:

          When retail establishments look for potential sites two of the biggest things they look at is the number of ‘rooftops’ within a certain area (i.e., population density) and average income.

          ‘Wealth’ (in the sense of net worth) is rarely if ever used because it’s not data that is generally available in a reliable and accessible form.

          As you said, Whole Foods is not across the River for “a reason” but it’s safe to say “wealth” is not that reason.

          Signed,
          Someone who doesn’t live on the Southside (or the West End).

    • Bob August 23, 2012 at 7:54 am - Reply

      Most people move for children’s schools, not because cheaper.

  12. Alexis August 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Ack! This would be amazing. I’m so tired of driving to congested Short Pump for awesome groceries (Sorry, ET). Also, as much as I think Fresh Market is great, nothing compares to Whole Foods!

  13. steve August 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    What we Really need is a Wegmans!!!

    • matt August 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Wegmans would make me a Richmond-lifer!

  14. R Sweeney August 23, 2012 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    For those who don’t know, Wegman’s and Hannaford were the models that Ukrops used to develop their own format. Wegman’s one of the top 5 class grocery operations in the US, often chosen as #1 best.

  15. dickie August 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    If whole foods move there it won’t survive. You think vcu students will keep it afloat?

  16. Charles August 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Whole foods would rock their. A lot of us drive out to it in dreadful short pump, and I’d love not to.

    Vcu students? No. But check out the house prices in the fan and museum district… I don’t understand why whole foods isn’t here already. It makes more sense than midlothian

  17. Amy October 25, 2012 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    One more cheesy, over priced chain….go Richmond!

  18. jd October 26, 2012 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Amy — all the “cheesy, over priced chain” you reference are in Short Pump, not Richmond.

    • Brett October 26, 2012 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Pretty sure there is a Kroger, Fresh Market, Martins, Walgreens, and CVS in Richmond, actually more than one, and most are in Carytown right down the street from this location. They are all over priced chains.

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