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Friday, October 3, 2008

Whole Foods Still Wants to Shrink Interbay Store, Says West Seattle Location Still On Track

posted by on October 3 at 17:16 PM

Whole Foods just sent me an email regarding the future of its planned Interbay and West Seattle stores.

The grocery chain is being sued by the developer of an Interbay shopping center after Whole Foods attempted to renegotiate its lease.

According to Whole Foods Regional President John Clougher:

“Whole Foods Market is disappointed that TRF Pacific was unable to meet the schedule we all agreed upon several years ago. We have been in ongoing discussions with TRF about downsizing the Interbay store for several months. We continue to believe these negotiations are a work in progress. While we acknowledge that there are legal complexities, we hope to come to a resolution.

Whole Foods Market’s West Seattle store project is unrelated to this issue, and its development schedule is on track.

There you have it.

Update: TRF Pacific responds to Whole Foods’ response:

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve been forced into taking this action. This is the first time in our company’s history that we’ve had to file a lawsuit against an anchor tenant for breach of lease. “TRF has had a great working relationship with Whole Foods. In fact, this is the third development with the company. “The Interbay Whole Foods was configured and custom built based on Whole Foods’ specifications. Whole Foods notified us of its intentions to terminate its lease one week before we were scheduled to turn over the building shell to the company. “We’re hopeful that Whole Foods will reconsider its decision and honor the commitments it has made.”

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Once the recession is in full swing, Whole Foods will fold faster than a lawn chair if they keep going the way they are now. I'm curious to see what they're going to try to do to stave that off...

Posted by demo kid | October 3, 2008 4:08 PM

They won't fold if they stick to their profitable stores -- Roosevelt is a freaking ZOO most of the time -- but these new stores, especially in weird areas like Interbay, are a huge risk. A recession will, or should, slow their expansion.

Posted by Fnarf | October 3, 2008 4:15 PM

Interesting: Whole Foods didn't deny the linked earlier story's report that the developer asserted to the court that Whole Foods said their larger stores (i.e. Roosevelt) were currently unprofitable. Busy can certainly equal unprofitable if you've got a broken business model.

Posted by tomasyalba | October 3, 2008 4:31 PM

Most of their products are luxury goods, and the demand for them is undoubtedly more income elastic than QFC or Trader Joe's. I don't think that the Roosevelt WF will empty tomorrow of course, but all of their stores are going to be hit MUCH harder than other competing supermarkets. (Probably excepting PCC and small, boutique grocers, of course.)

Honestly, I'd start buying up stock in Trader Joe's. They're cheap and yuppie-friendly... and they're bound to out-compete Whole Foods in an economic downturn. (Helps to include soylent green in the processed foods, of course...)

Posted by demo kid | October 3, 2008 4:41 PM

@4 Trader Joe's is a private company, no stock for you to buy!

Posted by elaine | October 3, 2008 4:55 PM

Funny, that developer must have forgotten to mention that lawsuit when we were discussing a lease for space across the parking lot.

Posted by left coast | October 3, 2008 5:17 PM

qfc is expensive.

if the development has been delayed, i'm pretty sure whole food's has the option to opt out... wouldn't they have written that into their contract?

Posted by mike | October 3, 2008 6:02 PM

Has QFC started building up from that hole in the ground at the corner of Stone Way and 40th? It's been a year since I lived there when the project was put on hold because construction costs went up.

Posted by elswinger | October 3, 2008 6:08 PM

@2 "weird areas like interbay"? 15th ave at the armory is right between queen anne and magnolia, and on an arterial so significant it's one of the 5 corridors in the city chosen for metro "rapid ride" bus implementation.

Posted by momster | October 3, 2008 6:59 PM

Never been in a Whole Foods in my life, and never expect to be. I try not to patronize or support anti-union businesses.

Any of you hipsters who think that's oh so last century can all line up to kiss my ass.

Posted by ivan | October 4, 2008 8:38 AM

@10, Thank you for being one of the few people on Slog that actually supports unions. Most people and definately most hippsters never support unions. It is the enduring legacy of Ronald Reagan. God help us all......

Posted by Andrew | October 4, 2008 9:13 AM

From the people that brought you the weekend. and holidays off. sometimes. the young hipsters born after 1982 or so who have never had to work within a union have no idea how important they are. check the recall powers in cali--its cops v. arnie right?

Posted by matt Davis | October 4, 2008 11:05 AM

shop QFC for sales - good produce - meat sales as well

Whole food is like a tour of the over priced and over marketed - and if you don't respond with energy and all that - they get surly.

Tried it twice, no more.

Best prices, Grocery Outlets - three stores that I know of in Seattle. VERY cheap, cheese is a real good buy. They stock most items, but does not try to be Whole Whatever with 16.00 per pound cheese.

Posted by George | October 4, 2008 12:22 PM

What does this mean to non-anchor tenants? Can they back out of this their contract if no anchor tenant? And get reimbursed for their initial investments? this sucks.

Posted by interbay non-anchor tenant | October 5, 2008 2:18 PM

I work for a large national retailer that is currently negotiating for that 20k square feet of difference in the Whole Foods site. I am currently have the understanding that this issue is not as big of deal as is being portrayed and will not make it to trail. From what I know TRF, Whole Foods, and my company are currently working with architects and costs on how to best resolve all of this. Obviously nothing is set with these things until the store actually opens in my opinion, but I would expect that building will resume there soon and whole foods will open a smaller store mid next year.

Posted by Adam | October 6, 2008 3:24 PM

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