Detroiters are hoping the arrival of a Whole Foods store will spur the revitalization of Midtown.
A little over eight years ago, during a New Urban News tour of the Logan Circle-14th Street NW section of Washington, DC, Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth pointed to a handsome Whole Foods store, and observed that the store's arrival had been a huge boost to the area.
After the store opened on P Street in around 1999, the pace of improvement in the neighborhood picked up.
Now Detroiters are so eager for the "Whole Foods Effect" that according to an article in Salon, they've offered the retailer $4,2 million to open a store in Detroit's Midtown section. An organization named Midtown Detroit Inc. worked at luring Whole Foods to Detroit.
The Detroit Free Press reported that ground will be broken May 14 for the 21,o00 sq. ft. store. "It is the first time that the Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, which operates 320 stores in three nations, will build a store in a distressed urban location," the Free Press said.
"We see a city at an inflection point," Walter Robb, Whole Foods co-CEO, told the Detroit Economic Club in April. "We see citizens with determination and resiliency and spirit the likes of which we haven't seen around the United States."
Writer Will Doig, in his Salon article, said one major reason for Whole Foods' beneficial effect on not-yet-thriving urban neighborhoods is that the retailer stays open later than many other shops around it. This helps to extend the length of the shopping day. Evening foot traffic arrives, and new kinds of businesses can prosper.
The arrival of Whole Foods or similar upscale retailers also gives a neighborhood the sense of having been approved by an entity that matters. Suddenly the neighborhood possesses more credibility as a place to live.
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