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Whole Foods Market Signs Lease for Central West End

Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun, mrcalhoun@cbs.com)
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People crowd a Whole Foods store in Manhattan on August 26, 2011. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

People crowd a Whole Foods store in Manhattan on August 26, 2011. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

calhoun2 Michael Calhoun
A native St. Louisan, Michael Calhoun grew up listening to the Voice...
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - The lease is signed, making it official: Whole Foods Market will open a new location at Euclid and Pine in the city’s Central West End neighborhood.

The store will be located on the ground-floor of Mills Properties’ $70 million City Walk residential development.

Bruce Mills told KMOX News that he actively courted the Austin, Texas-based business, setting up a meeting with the C.O.O. when the executive was at Washington University for a conference last Febuary. Mills said he sealed the deal after showing off the neighborhood and site to a contingent from the company.

With ink on paper, Mills hopes to break ground by June and open by mid-2015. He said the store would employ about 120 people.

He did acknowledge that “someone from the city” had called him regarding efforts by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 to compel a union workforce at the store. None of Whole Foods’ other stores nationwide are unionized. Mills said Whole Foods can opt-out of its lease if required to sign a what’s called a “neutrality agreement,” allowing employee organization.

Mills is seeking $10 million in tax increment financing, which has already been approved by the city’s TIF commission. Aldermen wil consider the incentives when they reconvene in April.

He predicts a halo-effect from the trend-setting grocer’s presence.

“I think this’ll bring some of the really hard-core retailers back to the area, particularily the Central West End,” he said.

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