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Whole Foods opening date shifts slightly

June 13th, 2013 1 comment

The Whole Foods Market under construction in Jackson’s Highland Village will open late this year.

It’s not a big one, but it is a departure from the date given at the groundbreaking last November, when officials said the opening date would be fall 2013.

A Whole Foods spokesperson could not give a more specific date.

“We don’t typically announce an opening date until about three weeks out,” Darrah Horgan Wednesday afternoon in an email to the Mississippi Business Journal.

Horgan said the natural foods grocer has already implemented some of its outreach programs designed to connect local producers with the store. Whole Foods held an open house for local vendors a few months ago, and will have similar events leading up to the opening.

Whole Foods also has a local producer loan program, in which the company makes low-interest loans to potential producers to spruce up their operation enough to meet the company’s standards. Mississippi’s version of that program will also wait until closer to the opening date before starting. Loans range from $1,000 to $100,000.

The Jackson store will be the first Whole Foods in Mississippi. It will sit on the east side of Highland Village adjacent to Old Canton Road. White Construction Co. of Jackson is building the 30,000 square-foot store.

Whole Foods work to temporarily close Old Canton entrance to Highland Village

March 29th, 2013 No comments

The Old Canton Road entrance to Highland Village in Jackson will be temporarily closed, starting April 2.

White Construction Co., which is building the shopping center’s Whole Foods Market, will spend two weeks running new power lines for the natural foods grocer’s 30,000 square-foot building. The company will also resurface the adjacent parking area.

A Highland Village newsletter sent Friday said signs directing shoppers to other entrances will be erected while the work is being completed. Other access points include one on Northside Drive, Interstate 55’s frontage road and another entrance on Old Canton Road in front of Bravo! Italian Restaurant and Bar.

Whole Foods will sit to the east of Highland Village’s existing buildings. The store’s east side will run directly alongside and parallel to Old Canton Road. The front of the store will face north toward Northside Drive.

Jackson’s Whole Foods will be the first in Mississippi. Ground broke last November, with the store set to open this fall.

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Whole Foods’ labeling decision draws criticism

March 12th, 2013 3 comments

Late last week, Whole Foods Market became the first national grocery chain to mandate labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Labeling genetically engineered foods – sometimes called GMO or genetically modified foods – have been ballot issues in a couple western U.S. states, including California and Washington. The measure died last November in California. It will appear on the ballot in Washington this November.

Supporters of the labeling say it’s needed so consumers can know what they’re buying. Supermarket chains opposed the measures, citing legal liability concerns. GMO producers like Monsanto also opposed the measure, disputing claims that the products were unsafe.

Whole Foods will not start labeling GMO in its American and Canadian stores until 2018. The grocer’s Jackson store in Highland Village is currently under construction and is scheduled to open this fall.

Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said the five year window would make the transition easier on the grocer’s suppliers.

“This is a complicated issue, and we wanted to give our supplier partners enough time to make this change,” he said in a March 8 letter posted on the company’s website. “Fortunately, many of our suppliers are already well on their way to moving to Non-GMO ingredients and a good number are already there. While five years is the deadline, we know there will be progress much sooner and we plan to announce key milestones along the way.”

GMO opponents reacted to Whole Foods’ decision generally unfavorably.

Food Democracy Now, which supported California’s measure and is doing the same in Washington, said Whole Foods should start the labeling process immediately.

“While this is a step in the right direction, Whole Foods’ customers shouldn’t have to wait another half decade to get common sense labeling of genetically engineered ingredients in their products that they sell unlabeled every day,” said Dave Murphy, the organization’s founder. Murphy, who co-chaired the push to pass the ballot measure in California, said its chances of passage would have increased had Whole Foods supported the measure sooner than it did.

Whole Foods’ Jackson location will be the first in Mississippi. Construction started on the 30,000 square-foot store in November.

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Like its counterparts, Jackson’s Whole foods will carry unique design

November 8th, 2012 No comments

Dirt turned Thursday morning on the Whole Foods Market in Jackson’s Highland Village.

Like the other 400 Whole Foods, the design of Jackson’s store will be unique.

The front of Whole Foods Market in Jackson will face north toward Northside Drive. The store is scheduled to open fall 2013.

“We’ve never built two stores that are alike,” said Omar Gaye, Whole Foods South Region president, just before he joined Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson and half the City Council in jabbing shovels in the ground. “We want to build a store that looks like the community.”

Whole Foods will sit to the east of the existing buildings that make up Highland Village. The store’s east side will run directly alongside and parallel to Old Canton Road. The front of the store will face north toward Northside Drive.

To go with the design, the construction site will also separate Jackson’s store from its counterparts. “Building a store on a parking lot will not be easy,” Gaye said. He added that the site plan went through “100s of different designs” before finding one that fit the space.

The parking lot to the north of the store will remain, and will be reconfigured to add parking spaces to make up at least some of those that will be lost, said Lou Masiello, vice president of development for WS Development. Chestnut Hill, Mass.-based WS acquired a controlling interest in Highland Village last month. The retail development company has Whole Foods stores in some of its Northeastern U.S. properties.

White Construction Co. of Jackson will build the 30,000 square-foot Jackson store, scheduled to open fall of next year. It will be the first Whole Foods in Mississippi.

Aerial view of Whole Foods location in Highland Village – Jackson.

Whole Foods to break ground Thursday

November 6th, 2012 4 comments

Whole Foods Market will break ground Thursday morning on its 30,000 square-foot store in Jackson’s Highland Village, the company said Tuesday.

The groundbreaking ceremony will be held under a tent in Highland Village’s east parking lot. The store will sit between existing buildings at the shopping center and Old Canton Road. It will be the first foray into Mississippi for the grocer specializing in natural and organic food. Overall, the Austin, Texas-based company has 400 stores in 40 states.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told the Mississippi Business Journal in October that the store would open sometime next fall. Company officials originally targeted Thanksgiving 2013 as the opening date, but a spokesperson would not commit to that last month.

This will be the second major event for Highland Village in the past couple weeks. Built in the early 1970s by late businessman Jimmy Fowler, the 220,000 square foot shopping center is now controlled by Massachusetts-based WS Development. Fowler’s family had owned and operated the center since its opening. WS officials promised then that the transaction would not hinder Whole Foods’ arrival.

Whole Foods’ announcement last spring that it was coming to Jackson was the culmination of several months of negotiations with Highland Village, and was met with no small amount of enthusiasm. Two studies done within the past six years – one conducted by Realtors, another by Citigroup – have found that commercial and residential real estate in the area of a Whole Foods experienced a bump in value that ranged from 10 to 20 percent.

Mass. company acquires controlling interest in Highland Village

October 24th, 2012 No comments

WS Development announced Wednesday morning that it had acquired a controlling interest in Highland Village shopping center in Jackson.

The company, based in Chestnut Hill, Mass., is making its first entry into Mississippi.

Guy Boyll III, who was Highland Village’s VP of operations under old ownership but will serve as asset manager under the new arrangement, said in a press release that he and other existing partners will work with WS in the management of the 220,000 square-foot, mixed-use shopping center.

The newest retailer – Whole Foods Market – is scheduled to break ground next month on a 30,000 square-foot grocery store that will open next fall.

WS partner Dick Marks said his company’s acquisition of the shopping center does nothing to change that. “We are thrilled to become a part of this extraordinary center and to bring Whole Foods Market to Mississippi.”

Highland Village opened in 1972 and offers nearly 50 retailers, from clothing boutiques to outdoors outfitters to jewelers and fine dining restaurants. It was built by late Jackson businessman and philanthropist Jimmy Fowler. Three generations of his family have owned it since.

Boyll said in a phone interview Wednesday morning that the deal had been in the works for a year and a half. He emphasized that it would do nothing to change Whole Foods’ plans.

Terms were not disclosed, but WS said that it only pursues retail-related real estate investments that exceed $10 million.

“WS Development shares the family’s belief that the best shopping centers not only serve their communities, but also become part of them,” Marks says.