Whole Foods oped out of the University Village Mixed Use Project because of the hard work done by the many activists in and around Albany by advocating for an urban farm and a small local coop grocery. Now we need to envision the people’s urban farm and agroecological center on the Gill Tract. Here are the statements by UC and Whole Foods.
The main thing people need to understand is we’re gonna be moving ahead,” said UC spokesman Dan Mogulof. He added that the university continues to have an “undiminished commitment” to the development. “We feel very optimistic about the extent to which other partners will be interested.”
To The Members of the Albany Community, 1:00 pm Friday, 9/21/12
Today Whole Foods announced its decision to terminate their lease agreement with the University and withdraw from the planned Market Place and Senior Housing project in Albany. The decision comes in the wake of new lawsuits filed against the city that seek to further delay or cancel the project, as well as the likelihood of a ballot referendum on the development plan that might not be voted on for up to a year.
While we regret the loss of the project’s anchor retail tenant, we understand the firm’s frustration over further delays that come on the heels of five, long years of extensive community meetings related to development of the vacant parcel on the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Monroe Street. The end result of that engagement process was a carefully considered plan and development agreement that reflected and supported the expressed interests of the community.
Over the course of the five-year process, we consistently heard loud and clear the desire for a grocery store in what is currently an underserved area. We also heard broad support for a project that will generate jobs, economic activity and revenue for the City of Albany. To serve the needs of the Albany Village residents and the broader community, we are beginning the process to find a new retail grocery store partner for that location. From the University’s perspective the opportunity for a win-win was and remains apparent: in addition to providing a much needed grocery store, the project will offer increased tax dollars for the city, and revenue for the campus to offer rent subsidies for low-income UC Berkeley students and their families living in Albany Village.
While it is too soon to know how, or if the project’s parameters may change with the entry of a new partner, we will continue to keep you informed and welcome your input on how we achieve our shared goals and interests.
Assistant Vice Chancellor – Real Estate
A spokeswoman for Whole Foods sent the following notice around noon on Friday.
Whole Foods Market has terminated its lease agreement with UC Berkeley’s University Village and Senior Living project location in Albany, CA because terms of the lease have not been met and the project has been delayed for several years.
Whole Foods Market is very interested in serving this community and will continue to actively pursue location opportunities and when a site has been secured we will announce it on a quarterly earnings call, when all new store locations are publicly announced.
Whole Foods Market Public Relations