Next Up for Whole Foods: Walter Reed?
Whole Foods may just have announced plans for a new store on H Street NE, alongside existing plans for a store in the Capitol Riverfront, but that doesn't mean the company is done expanding in the District. In fact, the organic grocer is eyeing one of the highest-profile sites in the city: the soon-to-be-redeveloped Walter Reed campus.
"I’m interested in the Walter Reed site, too," says Whole Foods Mid-Atlantic Regional President Scott Allshouse. "I think that would be a very dynamic project to be a part of."
The city announced yesterday that it had selected a development team of Hines and Urban Atlantic to build a mixed-use complex on the site that formerly housed the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, choosing the partnership over teams led by Forest City and Roadside Development. Allshouse says Whole Foods was in touch with all three contenders. Hines, he says, is very receptive to the idea of a Whole Foods on the site, and Whole Foods has worked with Hines' retail partner, Weingarten Realty Investors, on other projects.
The Roadside proposal included a Wegmans store, and the Rochester-based supermarket expressed disappointment when Roadside was not chosen and may not pursue a store on the site. "That’s a little bit of the difference between us and Wegmans," says Allshouse. "They partnered with one person, and when Roadside didn’t get the bid, they made a comment on what their next steps would be, 'if any.' We’re not an 'if.' We want to be in there."
For the H Street store, Allshouse says he's not worried about the competition from the numerous grocery stores coming to the area. Allshouse says some shoppers will buy basic staples at, for example, the Giant, while coming to Whole Foods for produce and meats. But, he says, others will simply prefer Whole Foods for all their shopping needs.
"Full disclosure, I use 365 toilet paper," he says, referring to the Whole Foods brand.
Rendering from the Hines-Urban Atlantic proposal