Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Last Thoughts on Whole Foods: Part Deux

I'm confused. I've always been told Whole Foods' decision not to build a new structure was due to the difficulties they've had with Dallas' lovely planning and zoning folks. Scott Simons of Whole Foods sent me an email that included this explanation.
"...this decision was a business decision that came down to timing. After we had “sat” on that building for an entire year (much longer than we had hoped) to get our game-plan together and navigate the unique landlord situation and zoning, we simply cannot afford to sit on it for six more months to a year to gain the zoning amendment for the new construction."
Understandable and exactly what we all though. Then comes news by way of Angela Hunt's blog that says,
"I spoke with Whole Foods' Seth Stutzman two days before they publicly announced their decision, and he explained that after they got into the zoning case, they did a cost comparison of building a new store versus redoing the old Minyards store. They were shocked to see that the redo would cost $4.5M less than a new store. It would also allow for a more environmentally-friendly store."
So which is it? Someone isn't telling the complete truth. Mrs. Hunt goes on to say,
"I just want to make sure our inclusive zoning process is not blamed for a business decision."
To which I ask, if your "inclusive zoning process wasn't as onerous as you say it is then what happened to the Andres brothers and the development at Lovers and Amesbury? But the Wachovia Bank on Abrams popped up within a year's time. So what's really going on? Let's face it. We'll never know.


  1. I don't live in Lakewood so don't have a dog in the hunt. I do find the story interesting.

    I am wondering if you might be comparing apples and oranges?

    Did the bank building require any significant changes/variances in the zoning? It also was one parcel of land wasn't it.

    If it didn't require any then it is not at all like the WF situation.

    WF was looking for major zoning changes. And from what I gather they wanted changes in a plan that long term residents in Lakewood had put a lot of time and energy into developing.

    If WF had started with a plan that fit the current zoning they could have had dirt flying long ago just like the bank

    Apples and oranges?

  2. I agree with your logic 100% but I wasn't trying to compare WF and Wachovia. I was pointing out that WF was using one reason (that you pointed out) they are now choosing to renovate verus building new and Angela Hunt is saying WF told her it was because of cost. Those are 2conflicting stories.

    I also find it hard to believe WF didn't know it would cheaper to renovate vs. building new in the beginning. So if cost was a determining factor then why the efforts to build new and change zoning?

    Nothing is adding up. And that was my main point.

  3. This store is a well known nationwide store and any community would love to have. What a shame they were not able to come to an agreement.

    We have a similar situation with our local grocery store they have in the past 20 years done a remodel and encompassed double the footage when other stores moved out and people were happy.

    They bought the property on the corner of the strip mall and want to build a free standing store and zoning issues have arose and for two years this battle has been going on. They stated recently if it doesn't go thru they are pulling out. A real problem as so many depend on them. It will mean a 7+ mile ride to an equivalant store. I hope this all gets worked out but you never know thats for sure. During recent hurricanes in 2004 the roof collapsed twice and this store rebuilt and that shows there commitment to want to stay and I don't understand city zoning sometimes.

  4. Having a Whole Foods or any nationally known retail store want to build a flagship store in your area will make many city's and neighborhoods claw and scratch their way to make that happen. Which is why lately I am ashamed to say I live in East Dallas.