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.

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

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  • I like this store very much and will continue to support them. But yes, I fear they won’t survive long.

  • Erica

    Me too!

  • PragmaticProgressive

    The funny thing about that store and its el cerrito sibling is this: while small, I find that they often have everything on my list and little that is not on my list. Bigger is not always better.

  • Guest

    I’ve been to Berkeley Natural exactly once. Maybe I was looking for the wrong things, but I found the selection to be both narrow and horrifically overpriced. It hardly seemed like a full-service grocery.

  • Loves Berkeley Natural

    wow, another perfect person. It must be nice. You must never be in a rush, or get overcharged, or get a ticket, or have someone barf in your backseat, or bike seat, or find mold under your house, or have mice in your walls, or ants in you bathtub, or need to find the right kind of something for someone else. You for sure aren’t likely a parent. maybe you are but everyone does what you say because you are perfect.

  • Loves Berkeley Natural

    I’m just pointing out what I observe.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Not when you write what you think Berkeley “ought to do/be.” That goes beyond mere observation and becomes prescription or aspiration. Your remark that everyone “wants it their way every second” is an observation of sorts, though not a very good or kind one. Anyway, I am pointing out the obvious conflict: if, as you suggest, everyone acts out of pure self-interest (“wants it their way every second”), why would your vision for a citizenry united by common principle ever come to pass?

  • Cookie Monster

    I got a George Washington here that says that “Loves Berkeley Natural” is employed by Berkeley Natural.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “Some of the worst parking experiences I’ve had were in fact in the WF lot,”

    Hey, this gives me a great idea for a music video!

  • Charles_Siegel

    It seems that the city proposed a plan for a double roundabout at Gilman and the freeway in 2009 (one roundabout west of the freeway and one east), but googling around, I don’t see any action on the plan since then. One of the most recent articles about it is at http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Roundabouts-proposed-for-Berkeley-s-Gilman-St-3248775.php

    If any council aides are reading, maybe they can tell us what happened to this plan.

    I think it would help. Here is a quote from the article:
    said Farid Javandel, Berkeley’s transportation manager. “With a
    roundabout, you only have to look in one direction. Right now, it’s very
    dangerous because you never know where or when someone’s going
    to turn.”

  • Bill Bartell

    ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE that the company responsible for nearly destroying the Natural/Whole foods business in this country, employing many tactics similar to Walmart to destroy small and medium sized purveyors – both manufacturers/growers and distributors, can just roll in and make a deal with this city to mess up another neighborhood with their Libertarian Corporate blight !!!! UNBELIEVABLE !!!

  • Loves B. N.

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but sweetness pays for itself. They likely have no idea about any of these posts. Jeeze!

  • 4Eenie

    Why are you acting like such a wanker? Quite the smug attitude you have there, and for no apparent reason than to stir things up.

  • youngka

    I lived in Berkeley for 32 years and miss going to Whole Foods Market! So neat you are opening another location! Just too bad you weren’t able to get the Andronicos bldg. on Telegraph! The students would have loved it! Good Luck with any more new endevors……Karen—Rainier, Oregon
    Come on up and open one in Longview, Washington~~~~just across the Columbia River from us……:-)

  • keenplanner

    Why would anyone shop at Whole Foods when you can go to Berkeley Bowl? The produce is better and costs half as much.

  • Virtualme

    Berkeley Natural is a wonderful store run by a worker cooperative, a far cry from Whole Foods. Some of their prices are high, some low. I shop there at least weekly, as I do at Berkeley Bowl, Monterey Market, and TJ’s. WF is at the bottom of my list, and will remain there.

  • emraguso

    For those who were interested in the status of the Gilman Street Interchange, we’ve just posted this story: http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/02/22/whats-happening-with-the-gilman-street-interchange/

  • fly-by-night

    whole foods in west berkeley is a great idea. i will still shop at the natural grocery, monterey market, the cheese board, berkeley bowl, even target etc. as well, as each has particular offerings that i purchase on a regular basis (and the prices do widely vary). however, i do agree that traffic will increase coming off I-80 and it is the most dangerous exit i’ve ever encountered (east and west coasts). i use it several times a week and each time feel as if i’m playing russian roulette. there definitely needs to be a signal there. roundabouts are for regular intersections not for six-direction interchanges.

  • The_Sharkey

    Actually he called Obama’s Health care plan – where the government mandates the purchase of private insurance rather than creating a single-payer system controlled by the government – fascist.

    INSKEEP: You expressed concern at one time about socialism. Do you think that this [health care reform] is socialism?

    MACKEY: Well, it depends on our definitions, here. Technically speaking, [Obamacare is]
    more like fascism. Socialism is where that government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it. And that’s what’s happening with the health care program and with these reforms. So I’d say the system’s becoming more fascist, or corporatism.


    But I guess it’s a lot easier to vilify anyone who questions the current Democratic political narrative if you refuse to actually listen to their argument and just blindly parrot trigger words you read on biased news blogs.

  • westberkresident

    I certainly hope they have planned for traffic mitigations. Berkeley is notorious for a less than adequate review and planning in this area. There is already a back up at times getting in and out of Walgreens across the street and dangerous crossings mid block. In comparison to other places I shop there doesn’t seem to be enough parking. I do welcome a close place to get groceries in West Berkeley, but I won’t be able to make it a habit with the high cost.

  • Elwood

    Berkeley natural is a pseudo worker cooperative. Also, the selection is horrible and expensive.
    I’m happy to have a WFM moving closer to me. They are a good place to work and shop. The have done a lot in my mind to bring natural, organic, fair-trade foods into a national spotlight.

  • Iceland_1622

    The Berkeley Bowl West has sadly gone ghetto, does not have a clue about store hygiene or maintenance, has been through three managers and counting and many employees do not speak English and will walk away from you if you ask any questions or even attempt to. There *are* good people there trapped in a deeply flawed system or lack of one. It pains me deeply to say this as it’s incomprehensible in a store that put in 30 million dollars to create something that has no leadership nor commitment to excellence. My last experience there one months ago was so horrific, with an employee shrieking and screaming at me at 5 pm. on a Friday that I have decided to take my business elsewhere. I suspect that WF will not be a similar experience and at present Trader Joes here is 25x better despite it’s very small size and more limited selection. Good manners, cleanliness and helpful employees are the heart and soul of *any* such store. I eagerly await the open of this store later this fall and hope it will be one of several alternatives to visit. Time will tell.

  • Name

    My last experience there one months ago was so horrific, with an employee
    shrieking and screaming at me at 5 pm. on a Friday that I have decided
    to take my business elsewhere.

    What on earth led up to that situation?
    What kinds of questions are you asking?

  • Mbfarrel

    The double roundabout was discussed in the late ’90s. I wonder if the holdup isn’t due in part to Berkeley trying to find a grant or getting CalTrans to pay for it. To much infrastructure was left dependent on Federal grants to cover Berkeley’s shift to “services.”