Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Whole Foods abandoning Pacific Station?

Rumors are swirling that the long-promised Whole Foods Market may not be opening in the Pacific Station development. The opening was announced back in November 2007:

A notice issued Thursday by Whole Foods says a 25,000-square-foot store will open at Pacific Station, a planned center on South Coast Highway 101 at F Street.

The "mixed-use" project proposed by developer John DeWald calls for two three-story buildings, a two-story restaurant and two levels of underground parking on the 1.39-acre lot between E and F streets.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring and last 14 to 18 months, DeWald said Thursday.

"We are thrilled to be opening our third San Diego store in Encinitas, a community that embodies the health-conscious lifestyle that Whole Foods Market caters to," spokeswoman Marci Frumkin said in a statement.

As recently as this past April, Downtown Encinitas Main Street Association said, "Construction has topped out on the project and work is continuing towards completion this summer. The retail tenant build outs including Whole Foods should be commencing soon."

So why are there no Whole Foods signs going up even as finishing touches like the "Park" sign and building address go on the exterior?

Encinitas is still listed as "in development" on Whole Foods' web site. An e-mail to a Whole Foods spokeswoman was not returned as of the time of this post. A A phone call to an employee at the Whole Foods regional headquarters revealed that there was no firm opening date, but plans are for a Spring 2011 opening.

The developer has posted a "Notice of Non Responsibility" in the window naming Mrs. Gooch's Natural Food Markets as the tenant. This is a standard form that landlords post to avoid responsibility for construction bills that are owed by the tenant. Mrs. Gooch's is the southern California subsidiary of Whole Foods, so on the surface, Pacific Station still believes Whole Foods is coming in. However, the notice was dated April 2010, and there appears to be no work going on inside the building.

It's certainly possible that Whole Foods is getting cold feet. Construction has taken longer than planned, and the economy is a lot shakier than it was when the store was originally planned. It's also possible that Whole Foods still plans to open the store, but is renegotiating a better rent rate. And Del Mar is also on the development list. Maybe Whole Foods is playing the two locations against each other to get the best deal.


  1. It is interesting that the Mrs. Gooch's name is still being used as a subsidiary. Mrs. Gooch's was the local LA chain that was brought by Whole Foods in 1993.

  2. Guess who is being interviewed and considered to manage the Whole Foods Store?

    Yep, someone who has 30 years experience as a successful retailer less than two blocks away from the Pacific Station; someone with several degrees in business and management and who, when working as a regional for Southland Corporation,"..always made money for his partners."

    While he doesn't live in Encinitas any longer, he does own several properties here and Whole Foods would be wise to hire him.

    Can you guess?

  3. If I were them, I'd skip on the location - it is not an accomodating site - too congested and difficult parking.

  4. Whole Foods seems to always choose poor locations for its stores! The site is small and traffic and parking is already a problem. Same situation in La Jolla and Hillcrest, they always insist on the neighborhood store that sells to the Outer communitys. The store should be put East of I5 where all the main store chains are, the old Albertsons building would have been a great location. A larger store and twice the parking!! This area is also the center for shoping from Carlsbad down to Del Mar.. This area could support a Large Whole foods like they have in N. Calf. Whole foods would be smart to reconsider another location, but soon eveyone is waiting!!

  5. They already signed a 20 yr lease which locks them in. Current delays are with the city and developer. Should be early Q1 2011 when they finally open.

  6. Maybe Dalager can stand outside and sharpen knifes for food!

  7. The store is half the size of their other stores, 25,000 sq.ft. compared to 54,000; half as much floor space.

  8. Looking in the window, i will agree its a small store. And looks like they only want to cater to the locals in that area, west of 5. It will not be worth the drive from east of the 5 to deal with traffic and parking then Not find what your looking for. And they want to do the same thing in Del Mar.. My sister lives in mission valley and says the store in Hillcrest only has the basics compared to La Jolla.. Why they insist on such small stores in San Diego, maybe there regional development team is out of touch with the area.

  9. Check out the loading/unloading area. Not big enough for an 18-wheeler, guess the architect forgot that an accessible loading dock is a prerequisite for a grcery store.

  10. Quit complaining and be happy that you hippies up in Encinitas are getting your own Whole Foods store-smallish or not! Time to meditate and do some deep-breathing yoga techniques to get in touch with your gratefulness mantra! Get real!