After two years, the day Detroit’s endive and escargot enthusiasts have waited for is finally here: a construction crew broke ground on the city’s new Whole Foods Monday.
The upscale grocery store chain selling natural and organic foods is opening its sixth Michigan store at John R and Mack Avenue in the Midtown neighborhood. Set to open in early 2013, the store will be nearly 21,000 square feet and will employ between 60 and 80 workers.
It will be supported by $4.2 million in tax credits and incentives, according to Crain’s Detroit Business, close to half of its $10.7 million price tag.
Whole Foods Detroit started as an idea in 2010, as the Austin, Texas-based company sought to determine if Midtown, the Detroit neighborhood with the highest income level, was a viable location for a store.
For two years, market watchers have debated the store’s potential as local critics have wondered about the need for an expensive grocery store and the role of a large, outsider corporation in Detroit.
Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb told the Detroit Free Press Monday morning he “loved” the community and hoped people would get past the stereotype of what happens when a large corporation comes into a neighborhood.
Robb said Detroit Whole Foods would make an effort to stock local products.
Whole Foods isn’t the only major grocery player locating in Detroit, a city erstwhile known for its dearth of national grocery chains. Farther uptown, next to the old State Fairgrounds at 8 Mile Rd. and Woodward Avenue, developer REDICO will start work this week on a space that will hold a very different kind of grocery store.
Thursday marks the groundbreaking of the 360,000 square foot Gateway Marketplace, the first major shopping center in the city in 50 years. The development received more than $6 million in brownfield tax credits from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, according to MLive.
The retail facility (read: strip mall) will be anchored by a 195,000-square-foot Meijer superstore. The Grand Rapids-based company has locations throughout Michigan, but this will be its first in Detroit.
Though the city is served by a number of independent grocery stores, according to Salon, Detroiters spend $200 million at suburban grocery stores each year. The new stores may help keep them in the city limits for their grocery needs, and fans of chains, organic produce and stores where you can buy clothes, iPods and milk all at once may be rejoicing come spring 2013.