Whole Foods moving into Midtown

Posted on July 28, 2011

Austin-based Whole Foods Inc. announced in a conference call Wednesday plans to open its first store in Detroit.

The store is to go in Midtown, on a vacant lot east of Woodward Avenue at the northwest corner of Mack Avenue and John R. Street.

Whole Foods plans to open the store in 2013, the company said in a release.

Detroit was one of eight cities named in the company’s third quarter filing as locales that will get new stores. The average size of each new store is 30,400 square feet, while the Detroit location is a little over 20,000 square feet.

According to a 2010 Social Compact study funded by the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., Midtown has the city’s highest rate of resident income per acre at $231,961. Social Compact is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that measures community economic indicators to spur urban investment.

The study, which was updated in 2009 from a previous one in 2006, shows Midtown also as having the highest average household income of new homebuyers at $113,788, followed by the Central Business District at $111,509 and Indian Village with average new homeowner income of $111,200.

According to email exchanges between the Michigan Economic Growth Authority and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., obtained by the Chaldean News under the Freedom of Information Act and subsequently provided to Crain’s, Whole Foods is seeking $4.2 million in city, state and federal incentives to open the store.

The documents say the 21,000-square-foot project is expected to get $1.5 million in local and community foundation funds, $1.2 million in federal tax credits under the New Market program and $1.5 million in state incentives.

The total build-out is expected to cost $10.7 million.

Joe McClure, founder of Troy-based McClure’s Pickles LLC, is optimistic about Whole Foods’ chance of success in Midtown.

“A lot of people are moving into Midtown,” he said. “There is a lot of energy there right now. It will be supported.”

McClure sells his pickles in both the Midwest and East Coast divisions of Whole Foods and said Whole Foods makes up about 15 percent his total sales.

“They are obviously a good company to be with.”

By Nathan Skid, Crain’s Detroit