Whole Foods confirms rumors of new Berkeley store

Gilman Master Plan_012813_1B
Master plan for the Gilman shopping district showing the location of the new Whole Foods and the relocated Office Depot. (Click to view larger.) Courtesy: Avila Design

Whole Foods has confirmed it will build a second Berkeley store at 10th and Gilman streets on the site currently occupied by Office Depot.

The grocery chain made the announcement after its earnings report today, confirming the news that Berkeleyside reported in November. The tentative opening date is fall 2014.

The store will be an estimated 30,500 square feet, and construction will begin late this year, once Office Depot relocates across the street.

Read more about the new Gilman shopping district on Berkeleyside.


Rob Twyman, president of Whole Foods Market’s Northern California and Reno region, estimates the new store will bring approximately 200 new jobs to Berkeley.

The developer of what is being termed the Gilman District project, which includes both Whole Foods and Office Depot, is Foothill Partners and The Pratt Company working together as Foothill Pratt Ventures.

Douglas Wiele, managing partner at Foothill Partners, said: “I’m delighted with the commitment from Whole Foods Market to our vision for the property, restoring to the neighborhood to a vibrant retail shopping district… I’m also pleased that Foothill and Whole Foods Market were able to reflect community sustainability values by reusing existing structures and improvements in putting the Gilman District project together, rather than engaging in the construction of new buildings at the site.”

Construction of the new Office Depot store, within other existing buildings, at the property is already under way.

Wiele told Berkeleyside that, as part of the build-out, the developers will install traffic signals to help drivers access and leave the store. The lights will likely be at the intersection of Ninth and Gilman, or possibly at 10th and Gilman. “It can be difficult to get on and off Gilman,” he said. “The city did not require traffic improvements, but we volunteered to install signals.”

Whole Foods telegrah
Whole Foods currently has one Berkeley store on Telegraph at Ashby. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Avila Design of Berkeley is the lead architect. Interior store design will be led by the Whole Foods Market Northern California construction and design team. The new store will be built within the existing building and parking at the site will be increased by reconstruction of an adjacent structure.

Dusan Motolik of Avila Design said the Whole Foods, will have a second story whose use has not yet been determined, but could be for storage or offices.

Motolik said the new store and future plans by the developers should help revitalize this part of West Berkeley as a shopping district. “The developers have a passion for new use and expanding commercial use. This should help define a new shopping district in this part of town.”

In a statement, Kevin Pratt of The Pratt Company said Foothill-Pratt was thrilled to be “bringing old buildings back to life, and reinvigorating the neighborhood with new life and new businesses. In particular, the creation of more space for local artists to do their work is especially gratifying.”

Whole Foods’ one Berkeley store is on Telegraph Avenue and Ashby. In September, Whole Foods terminated a lease agreement it had with UC Berkeley for a grocery store and senior housing project designed to be built at University Village in Albany. The decision came in the wake of lawsuits filed against the city that sought to delay or cancel the project, for which negotiations had already been ongoing for five years.

Although 30,000 square feet is considered small for a chain like Whole Foods, the Austin, TX-based retailer is pursuing a strategy of opening smaller stores as they cost less to build and are highly productive.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Gilman District Whole Foods Market store is planned for this summer.

Correction: A sentence which referred to the area Whole Foods is going into as being “zoned for ‘mixed use light industrial'” has been removed as this is incorrect.

Related:
Whole Foods likely to open second store in Berkeley [11.21.13]

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