A new Whole Foods Market is slated to open in Berkeley in late 2014.
The new store, located at 10th and Gilman streets, will be smaller than the other Berkeley Whole Foods, with an estimated 30,500 square feet. The store, however, will provide approximately 200 new jobs in the area, according to a Whole Foods press release.
“Regardless of size, Whole Foods Market stores aim to be intimate,” said Whole Foods Market Northern California spokesperson Jennifer Marples. “Each store is individually designed and operated for the needs of the specific community it serves.”
Rather than constructing a new building, the new Whole Foods will move into a building currently occupied by Office Depot. The old building will be refurbished by developers Foothill Pratt Ventures. Douglas Wiele, managing partner of Foothill Pratt, expressed his enthusiasm for the project.
“It fulfills our business objectives and provides service to the community by restoring old and largely vacant buildings,” Wiele said. “We all like to live in a vibrant community, and most of the buildings we bought are old and empty and in need of repair and refurbishment.”
Some UC Berkeley students, on the other hand, are less excited about the new Whole Foods Market. Some see issues with its distance from campus and the costliness of groceries, particularly at the current Whole Foods Market on Telegraph Avenue.
“I was one of the people working for ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ and (Whole Foods) gave us a $100 gift card to raffle off,” said UC Berkeley junior Sarah Beth Alcabes. “I have positive feelings towards the store, but I still think it’s kind of expensive. It sounds really far away from campus.”
At the same time, Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio acknowledged the need for the new Whole Foods Market in the neighborhood. Maio said the closest competitor the new Whole Foods Market will have is Gilman Natural Grocery, which is nine blocks away on Gilman Street.
“The area needs more grocery stores — there’s nothing down there,” Maio said. “There is no major grocer in the northwest part of Berkeley, so (Whole Foods) will become the major grocer there.”