Whole Foods Market, the grocery store chain that specializes in organic and natural foods, will move its Lexington store into The Summit, the upscale shopping center planned for Nicholasville Road and Man o' War Boulevard.
Developer Bayer Properties of Birmingham, Ala., announced Thursday that Whole Foods has signed a lease for a 40,000-square-foot store, which will figure prominently in the mixed-use development.
Sometime in 2016, Whole Foods will move from its present spot in The Mall at Lexington Green, on Nicholasville Road just 11/2 miles north of The Summit property. The new store will abut Nicholasville Road and will be across from the entrance to an existing Wal-Mart.
"Whole Foods Market is excited about the opportunity to provide even more people in the Lexington community access to fresh food and ingredients," said Scott Allshouse, Mid-Atlantic president for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market. "By relocating our Lexington store to The Summit, we will have more space, improved access and updated features, and we can continue to work to fulfill our core values, including satisfying, delighting and nourishing each and every customer. We look forward to hearing from our neighbors in the area on what they would like in this new, updated store."
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A call to Lexington Green owners Langley Properties was not immediately returned Thursday.
Wild Oats opened a store in Lexington Green in 2003; Whole Foods bought that chain in 2008, and the store's name was changed.
The Summit could be the city's first tax-increment financing in an area that wasn't blighted. In November, state officials approved $26.5 million in economic incentives for the proposed 60.29-acre, $155.6 million development, which is to include upscale shops, housing and possibly a five-story hotel. The project is scheduled to include 20 separate buildings, of which the Whole Foods property is the single largest store; more than 450,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space; more than 300 residential units; and nearly 2,500 parking spaces.
"We are very excited about Whole Foods Market joining The Summit Lexington," David Silverstein of Bayer said in a statement. "The brand fits perfectly with Bayer Properties' commitment to providing a premier shopping and gathering place for residents and visitors of Lexington to shop, dine, live and play in an enjoyable environment. This location will allow Whole Foods Market to offer a first-class shopping experience."
Whole Foods is the first tenant announced for the property, which is part of a retail renovation of the Nicholasville Road corridor. Phase I of the project is planned to open in spring 2016 with the residential units and 340,000 square feet of retail and restaurants. Phase II is to include an additional 110,000 square feet of retail.
Whole Foods Market operates 373 stores and has a total of 107 stores in development, according to the company.
Silverstein said in an interview that more stores and restaurants will be announced later this year. Construction is likely to begin in late fall, with the first stores to open in April 2016.
"When you work on a project like this, it's very important to get the key anchor tenants in place, and Whole Foods is certainly a key tenant for the project," Silverstein said.
He would not comment on other potential tenants, but said, "The other restaurants we will announce will be extremely well-received by the local consumers and residents in the region."