Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is a Whole Foods Coming to the Central West End?

Official rendering of City Walk at Euclid and West Pine
It's been rumored for many months, maybe even a year, that Whole Foods was coming to the Central West End.

By city standards, the vacant lot at Euclid and West Pine is enormous.   During the boom it was sited for a 30 story condo/apartment tower that went bust with the economy.  The old Soviet style medical arts building on the site sat empty for a few years when it was finally knocked down creating the CWE mosquito hatchery that scandalously occupied the site for a couple years before finally being filed in. (scandalous because if an unconnected person owned that lot they would have been relentlessly fined until the hole was filed in which would have taken weeks and not years).

Finally, Tim Bryant reports in the Saturday Post-Dispatch that it's official, site owner Mills Property has announced a deal to develop upscale apartments and has a letter of intent from Whole Foods to lease the 30,000 square foot ground floor.

The deal includes a commitment from Mills to improve the streetscape from Forest Park Parkway to Lindell.  Why Barnes-Jewish/Washington U wasn't pressed to upgrade the streetscape when they metastasized northward across Forest Park Parkway to build a large parking garage and office tower that will never, ever, appear on the property tax rolls even as it sucks up city services is another matter.

An anonymous independent source to The Ward Report has spoken to a Whole Foods employee transferred to Saint Louis from Chicago to advance the new store and study and learn the neighborhood to tailor the store to the unique nature and needs of the CWE.

The neighborhood Casandras will appear at all public hearings and everywhere else seeking attention to their opposition to this and all projects in the neighborhood, but they are well known to the development community inside and outside of City Hall who have learned to ignore them and go about building a better city.

As a committed homeowner of the CWE, I could not be more happy about this development, even though I won't actually believe it's true until there is a signed lease from Whole Foods.   This will do wonders for the living quality and property value of this neighborhood and the city.

Thank you Mills for finally coming through.

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