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Urban developers add supermarkets to the mixes

Several high-rise projects include street-level Whole Foods Markets.

August 31, 2015 |
Urban developers add supermarkets to the mixes

Whole Foods at Oahu's Ward Village, image courtesy Ward Village by Howard Hughes Corporation

In July, the Howard Hughes Corporation began selling condos in Ae’o, one of five residential towers that the developer is building within its 60-acre master planned Ward Village on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

When it’s completed sometime in 2018, the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson-designed Ae’o will have 466 residences that range from 409 to 1,331 sf and start in the low $400s. At the base of that tower will be a 50,000-sf Whole Foods Market.

Supermarkets have always been sought-after—and, some would argue, essential—tenants for mixed-use projects, especially for those in urban areas where grocery stores have become harder to come by.

In Boston, Millennium Tower at Downtown Crossing, a 60-story luxury high rise with 442 units, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016 next to a new 37,000-sf Roche Bros. gourmet supermarket. In Newark, N.J., a former 440,000-sf Hahne Department Store is currently under reconstruction by L+M Development and Hanini Group as a building with 160 mixed-income apartments and a 29,000-sf Whole Foods on the ground floor. And Extell Development has promised the community to include an affordable supermarket as part of the retail component of its Two Bridges tower project in Manhattan, which is being built on land where a Pathmark supermarket was closed to make way for the residential buildings. Lend Lease is the construction manager on this project.


Whole Foods within Eighth & Grand in Los Angeles, image courtesy Carmel Partners


Carmel Partners’ Eighth & Grand, a 700-unit mixed-use community designed by Commune, is currently preleasing and should open later this year. The ground floor of this three-acre site features the first Whole Foods Market to open in downtown Los Angeles. And in Dallas’s Uptown neighborhood, Gables Residential has had a waiting list since September 2014 for the 222 apartments and 17 townhomes in its eight-story Gables McKinney Avenue building, which sits atop a Whole Foods that opened on August 12. The urbanized supermarket includes a coffee and smoothie bar, a café, and a taproom with 24 taps for beer, wine, and cold-brew coffee.

Whole Foods Market, with 408 stores in the U.S., has operated in Hawaii for seven years and currently has four stores in the state. The Oahu location will be the retail supermarket’s first on that island and its flagship in Honolulu.

“Our focus is to bring in the best retailers for the daily needs” of residents and the local community, says Nick Vanderboom, Senior Vice President of Development at Ward Village. One of the other towers that Hughes is planning for Ward Village—988 Halekauwila, with 424 for-sale units, which opens in 2019—will include a 23,000-sf full-service Long’s Drugs at street level.

Ward Village on Oahu is designed to be Hawaii’s first LEED Platinum ND-certified development. Vanderboom acknowledges that the decision to include a supermarket in a residential tower “always complicates the design.” Sanitation and logistical issues must be addressed. As for parking, Hughes decided to put the lot for the supermarket and other retail within the tower above the stores, and have a separate area for resident parking.

This is a combination that Hughes likes elsewhere, too. Vanderboom says the developer has two stateside mixed-used projects that include Whole Foods: in Columbia, Md., a $25 million adaptive reuse of the 89,000-sf Rouse Company’s headquarters; and new construction in The Woodlands in Houston, where the supermarket will be next to the apartment tower and other retail. 


Whole Foods at the base of the Gables McKinney Avenue building in Dallas, image courtesy Gables Residential

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