New Whole Foods store coming to West Berkeley in November

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A new Whole Foods store will be opening in West Berkeley in November as part of a new shopping center.

The 47,800-square-foot grocery store’s doors are set to open on Nov. 4 on Gilman and 10th streets. It will be the second Whole Foods in Berkeley, after the location on Telegraph and Ashby avenues. The store is also expected to add 200 jobs to the area, according to store spokesperson Kristen Tantarelli.

The Whole Foods is a part of a two-stage development on Gilman Street, the first portion of which has already been completed. Besides the Whole Foods, the shopping center will include an Office Depot, another location of Oakland pastry shop Doughnut Dolly and a new location of coffee shop chain Philz Coffee.

At the soft opening of the Gilman location Monday, Philz Coffee CEO Jacob Jaber said he felt the addition of a Whole Foods — and the construction of the shopping center — would benefit the community.

“It gives people the opportunity to connect more,” he said. “There’s a lot more cohesiveness and connection when there’s places to meet, greet and shop.”

The new Whole Foods location will also offer a coffee roastery and alcoholic beverage tasting, according to Tantarelli.

Nafiah Muhammad, a local resident and a student at Mills College, said she was “iffy” about the new grocery store. She said she would rather see housing built but hopes the Whole Foods will help out the low-income residents of the surrounding area.

Though she said she felt concerned about potential traffic congestion caused by the store, Jane Rabanal, another resident, said it would benefit the neighborhood overall.

A Whole Foods was originally slated to be developed on a tract of university-owned land in Albany but was met with harsh protest, and the chain canceled its plans in September 2012. But according to Krystof Lopaur, an organizer with Occupy the Farm, a movement dedicated to the preservation of urban land for agricultural use, the group only opposed the grocery store’s construction because of its proposed location.

“We appreciate Whole Foods’ commitment to organic produce,” he said. “But we don’t think that they’re a solution to food justice … they’re basically just a big store.”

Tantarelli said the store plans on “building long-lasting community partnerships with nonprofit groups” through Whole Foods’ community donation program.

Contact G. Haley Massara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @BylineGraph.