|Keeping The Pressure On Whole Foods|
|Written by Columbia Heights News|
|Tuesday, 24 April 2007|
Page 1 of 3
We had an opportunity to talk at length with a number of folks who have had some level of involvement in the Whole Foods and DC USA negotiations. Again, we sought closure to our campaign for a Whole Foods in Columbia Heights. We wanted to bring the final verdict to those of you who have been so hopeful for a Whole Foods in our neighborhood. Although we did receive a lot of insight, we fell short of getting that final closure.
We have not spoken with Karen Riley since our last post, but she did fall short of telling us that DC USA is completely out of the picture when we last spoke earlier this month. She had provided us a lot of encouragement for our email campaign over the past year and it was disappointing to receive less optimism from her.
Not surprisingly, the most discouraging words came from Marc Katz from H&R Retail, the exclusive leasing representative for Whole Foods Market in the DC area. He provided us with the highest level of discouragement early last year (please read Whole Foods Market - An Uphill Battle). We recently had a chance to speak with him over the phone. His stance had not changed - he quite abruptly told us that the deal had died back in January 2006.
The problem with Mr. Katz is that he refuses to escalate the support of the community to Whole Foods. He told us that he has been working this issue for three years and if he attempts to put any more pressure on Whole Foods on behalf of the community, his job would be on the line. He told us that the main issues have been parking, the lack of retail frontage on 14th St, and the fact that the space is split into two levels rather than one. These points are hard to swallow because when Whole Foods signed a letter-of-intent for the space three years ago, it was aware of all of those limitations. It is not as if Whole Foods was blind sided by this information.
Despite Marc Katz's negativity and abruptness, his stature is quite significant in the Whole Foods negotiations as he is the main Whole Foods point-of-contact for the DC USA developers. But we know that he will not go out on the limb for the community and try to revive the negotiations because he feels he would be a nuisance by doing so. This is why we sought a direct Whole Foods Market contact from the very beginning.
Mr. Katz has to split his time among his many other retail clients and must limit the amount of effort he puts into Whole Foods. He represented Staples on its lease with DC USA and ironically, he is representing Ross Dress For Less in its negotiations with DC USA. For what its worth, if you would like to contact Marc Katz to express your support of Whole Foods and/or your disdain for Ross Dress for Less, here is his contact information:
Speaking of Ross, Pete Mallios of Newmark Knight and Frank told us that no deal has been signed. He told us that we still have some time to put pressure on Whole Foods. He provided us some very good insight on what we are up against.
If a Whole Foods location at the DC USA is to be as successful as the current P Street location, it'll have to put out sales volume approaching one million dollars each week. This would mean it would have to attract over 5,000 customers each week.
In terms of parking, Mr. Mallios had this to contribute:
This maybe an impossible feat, but if several thousand residents were to send emails to Whole Foods stating that they would be traveling to Whole Foods at DC USA by foot or by Metro, that would get even Whole Foods Chairman John Mackey's attention.
Drew Greenwald, the president of Grid Properties, was the most upbeat about how much impact the community could have in bringing Whole Foods Market to DC USA, even at this late stage. Mr. Greenwald has bent over backwards to get Whole Foods into DC USA and is now relying heavily on the community to show its support directly to Whole Foods. He told us that until another retailer goes to lease on the space designated for Whole Foods, he would not give up. We think this is our cue to not give up as well.
Until a final verdict is delivered, we encourage everyone to continue voicing your support for Whole Foods by sending emails (even if you have already done so) to Karen Riley, the Real Estate Coordinator at Whole Foods, and John Mackey, the Chairman of Whole Foods. Their emails are as follows:
You may copy us on your messages to Whole Foods so that we can keep a tally and make periodic compilations that we can send to Whole Foods. Please use the following email address when you copy or forward you messages to us: .