Reality is setting in now that work is finally underway at the site of the future Whole Foods Market in Highland Village.
“Everything has been approved. It is full steam ahead for this project,” said Michael Leavitt, Highland Village City Manager.
A fence has gone up around the construction site near the corner of FM 407 and FM 2499 at The Shops at Highland Village where an excavator breaks up the concrete parking lot.
The Highland Village Business Association held a Community Coffee on Oct. 1 at Patrizio’s in The Shops at Highland Village where over 125 local business owners gathered to hear about Whole Foods’ much-anticipated arrival from representatives of mall owner Alberta Development.
The Austin-based organic grocery chain will construct a 38,000-square foot store next year that should change the shopping habits of many southern Denton County residents.
City officials said that Whole Foods will face FM 2499 and the store’s exterior will complement existing buildings in the mall, with stone and a wood terrace. There will also be a 6,000-square foot second floor dining area. See site plan here.
“The store will be clad in limestone with a lot of glass so you can see all the stuff going on inside,” said Jay Matheson, who oversees construction at the mall for Alberta Development.
“They will put in a couple of outdoor fireplaces and some patio areas for people to get coffee and prepared foods and hang out and eat.”
To accommodate Whole Foods, an existing building at the center housing Coldwater Creek and Coldwater Creek The Spa will be demolished sometime in November.
Coldwater Creek has relocated to the former Eddie Bauer space and Coldwater Creek The Spa will close its doors for good.
Matheson said that the shell of the Whole Foods building should be finished by next May and then Whole Foods will take possession and complete the interior to their specifications.
He predicted that Whole Foods will open in November 2014.
“With every new addition comes some growing pains so I hope you will forgive us when we block off some traffic lanes and close off some parking and move things around as we try to fit this new tenant in the center,” said Matheson.
Alberta Development purchased the mall from Regency Centers in July 2012 and the new owners are working on adding tenants and driving more traffic, according to Laura Carstenson, a leasing principal with Alberta.
“When we bought the mall we felt it was an incredible opportunity and a great addition to our portfolio.” said Carstenson. “We’ve had an amazing year here and we’ve managed to retain a majority of our tenant base.”
Carstenson said that although a few stores have closed this past year, it was due to them not performing on a national level and had nothing to do with the center.
“We are excited that we have been able to add some amazing retailers like Decor To Your Door, Lucy Voss, and Brightside Shoe Boutique. We have been very busy leasing.”
The Shops at Highland Village is over 90-percent occupied with several new businesses scheduled to open soon, Carstenson said.
Tenants that will be opening at the mall in the next few months include Pigtails & Crewcuts, Chiladas Fresh Mex Grill, Capital One Bank, Grimaldi’s Pizza and Luke’s Locker.
“Luke’s Locker is building a 10,000 square foot location and will be a junior anchor tenant for us,” said Carstenson. “They are very community-oriented and will host a lot of activities.”
She said the mall is in negotiations with a national restaurant chain to take and expand the space that Highland Tavern was planning to locate in across from Mt. Fuji Steakhouse.
Carstenson underscored the investment that her company has put into the mall in landing the much-sought-after grocer.
“Between Whole Foods and the Coldwater Creek relocation we have invested seven million dollars, with Whole Foods investing another three and a half million dollars so that is very significant,” said Carstenson.
“Whole Foods is very involved in the community and takes great pride in the projects that they are in. We’re excited about them and they will be a fabulous addition to the center.”