Whole Foods eyes downtown Tempe - East Valley Tribune: Business

Whole Foods eyes downtown Tempe

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Posted: Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:34 am | Updated: 2:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Whole Foods is cooking up plans to open the Valley’s first upscale, urban-style grocery store inside the appropriately named Cosmopolitan condominium project in downtown Tempe.

Cosmopolitan developers Kowallis Mackey and LaMar and Tempe officials announced plans Tuesday for a two-story, 50,000-squarefoot version of the natural and organic foods retailer at University Drive and Ash Avenue.

It will be 30 percent bigger than a typical Whole Foods. That’s so it can serve as a fullservice market for the condo dwellers and the surrounding neighborhood, said Charles Huellmantel, representing Kowallis Mackey and LaMar.

“It will be fully integrated, fully urban, with structured parking — a grocery store literally on the street corner,” Huellmantel said. “There isn’t anything else like it (in the Valley).”

The Whole Foods will rise up two floors from the street, topped by 190 residential units and a hidden-fromstreet-view parking structure, he said. There is room for another retailer on the first floor as well as the condo lobby, Huellmantel said, but the developers haven’t decided yet what kind of store or service would be a good fit.

The entire project is still making its way through City Hall, but Huellmantel said he hopes Cosmopolitan can begin construction in early 2007 and start housing condo owners and serving grocery shoppers by late 2008 or early 2009.

The project’s progress had been delayed while developers redrew plans for the 238-foot structure three times to please concerned neighbors, Huellmantel said. But always on the drawing board was a top-of-the-line market, he said.

“We are building what we believe are premium, urban residential units, so we looked for a premium, urban grocery store,” he said.

Whole Foods already is a hit with Tempe grocery shoppers. The Texas-based chain, which claims to be “the world’s leading retailer of natural and organic foods,” opened its first Arizona store at Baseline and Rural roads nearly eight years ago. A second Whole Foods opened at Tatum and Shea boulevards on the Phoenix-Paradise Valley border. Additional stores are planned for Chandler and north Scottsdale.

It’s not clear whether the Cosmopolitan version will be a second Tempe location or if the Rural and Baseline store will close when the new and expanded one opens.

Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman said the condo units will bring an important but asyet-missing element to the commercially flourishing Mill Avenue district.

And the residences attract other neighborhood needs such as grocery stores. It all adds up to a vibrant city center, he said.

“It will be a true, authentic, urban downtown with all the goods and services,” Hallman said.

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