Whole Foods Moves to Englewood: Mixed Reactions From Residents

Posted: September 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

America’s healthiest grocery store known as Whole Foods Market is slated to come to Englewood at 63rd Halsted by 2016.  A possible sign of relief for many residents who dismissed Chicago Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI) original plans to bring a Save-A-Lot to the community. This plan was overriden by the will of local residents and the responsiveness of 16th Ward Alderman JoAnn Thompson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Since the beginning of the summer, dozens of residents took to R.A.G.E.’s Facebook page demanding that a quality grocery store other than a Save-A-Lot be brought to Englewood.  Early this year there was an inked deal by CNI to use TIF funds to build an 18,000 square foot-Save-A-Lot.

During a public village meeting in July of 2013 hosted by Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.) there was an out cry of disdain from residents whose concerns was that Englewood is being kept poor and old.

Many community leaders and residents felt that bringing in a senior citizen building, a new parking lot for the WIC depot, a Save-A-Lot placed next to an Aldi and Walgreens would not be a good use of TIF funds.

In 2010, Asiaha Butler blogging as Mrs. Englewood wrote about the idea of a Whole Foods coming to the community. “For example, a rep spoke about the TIF 67th & Wentworth area that outlines many areas in Englewood and other neighboring communities. I am particularly concern about the old KKC site…As a resident I would like to have a grocery store like a Whole Foods or even Trader Joe’s.”  Since 2011, the re-development plan by David Doig of CNI was brewing.  The act to engage the community about the development was not initiated according to Butler and other community leaders.  CNI plans included a Save-A-Lot, senior housing and a parking lot for WIC depot (run by Catholic Charities).  Read the entire story written by Rashanah Baldwin here on the Englewood Portal: http://www.englewoodportal.org/news/6620

What are your thoughts about this new development?

  1. Corrinn says:

    I too have mixed feelings, only because I wish that the grocery store was truly a local business. I do shop at Whole Foods for particular items but don’t do my grocery shopping there because they are too expensive. As the joke goes “Whole Foods costs a whole paycheck!” I also wonder will the tax dollars being spent here come back to the community? I would imagine that Whole Foods will draw more outsiders to the neighborhood as well. In the end, however, I am happy for a real grocery store and that a vacant lot of land will be put to use. I hope this truly benefits the community. We will just have to wait and see.

  2. Julia Thomas says:

    As a South Side (Woodlawn) homeowner and advocate, and long-time Whole Foods Market team member, I have to say that I think there will be some serious positives to having Whole Foods in the the neighborhood. First off, there are many value items (especially the private label 365 Everyday Value brand), pantry staples and excellent produce which I have heard Englewood residents long for in the past. They also already sell many local products such as prepared entrees by Soul Kitchen and other local producers. Beyond providing quality produce and healthy foods though, Whole Foods is a great company to work for and will create jobs for the neighborhood. For example, the South Loop WFM store downtown employs over 400 people. In addition, the company really takes to heart its core value of supporting the community. (I can say this because I have worked in Community Relations for WFM for 5 years.) They will hire from within the community and city and look to serve the needs of the neighborhood’s residents. They gave $30,000 to the Experimental Station, including major support for the Woodlawn Farmer’s Market in 2010 and have led garden volunteering projects at the South Chicago Art Center. In the end, there will be local folks working in this store who will be looking to build relationships to support other local businesses and residents. I think there is a potential for a great win-win partnership between Englewood and Whole Foods Market!

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