ENGLEWOOD —The new Englewood Whole Foods is slated to open its doors to the community in August 2016, co-CEO Walter Robb said Tuesday night during a Resident Association of Greater Englewood meeting held at Kennedy-King College.
Construction will begin in about 10 days for the South Side store. The national retailer plans to open the 18,000-square-foot store on the corner of 63rd and Halsted streets. Along with Whole Foods will come a Starbucks and a Chipotle, company officials said.
Robb said he wants to make a difference in the community and will do that by earning their trust and working as “partners.”
“I have hope in this project,” he said. “We want to do this with you.”
RAGE President Asiaha Butler said she was very pleased with the meeting.
“It exceeded my expectations,” she said, adding that she appreciates the approach Whole Foods has taken with the community. She said she liked that they are open to ideas and ask for feedback from the residents. During the meeting one woman said she wanted a wine bar and once it was clear that most agreed with her, company officials said, “Done.”
“I hope this can be a model of how corporations enter a community,” Butler said.
The store will create 80-90 jobs, said Michael Bashaw, Whole Foods Market Midwest Regional president. He estimates that at least 200 jobs will be created when the other tenants like Starbucks and Chipotle move in.
“We’re not going to make a lot of money doing this for our mission,” he said. "We’re coming on faith."
“I think it’s really nice that they’re going to create jobs for people in the area,” said Essie Reeves, 44, an Englewood resident.
The store will have educational nutrition classes and healthy food cooking demonstrations, which Reeves said she’s looking forward to.
“I’d love to go to that class,” she said. “A lot of [African Americans] have diabetes, heart problems, are overweight, so I think it’s going to be really, really good.”
One concern that she and others had is the affordability. Company officials said the market will offer its "365 value products," which means lower prices on Whole Foods’ items.
A special guest was introduced at the meeting: in July, the company said they were seeking a community liaison, someone who knows the community and is passionate about it. Cecile De Mello was offered the job last week.
She said she’s “honored, overwhelmed and excited.” She plans to work on creating meetings, focus groups and more, anything to connect the community to the store, she said.
“We’re coming to be participants in the community,” Robb said.
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