ENGLEWOOD — The Englewood Whole Foods Market that opened to great fanfare in 2016 is closing in November, sources told Block Club.
The store at 832 W. 63rd St. will shut down Nov. 13, a store supervisor confirmed. Employees were notified Tuesday and told they could transfer to other locations in Chicago.
Business will continue as usual in the interim, and the store will not operate anything differently, an employee told Block Club.
The closing date comes months after the company announced in April the Englewood and Lincoln Park stores were among six shutting down in the United States. The chain operates 530 locations, a company spokesperson said at the time.
When the Englewood location closes, a Hyde Park store will be the only Whole Foods Market on the South Side. Nearby grocery stores include an ALDI at 63rd and Wallace that was recently remodeled and reopened and the Go Green Community Fresh Market, a store launched by the Go Green on Racine team in March.
A Whole Foods representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When the store opened in September 2016, shoppers lined up for hours to celebrate what was part of a pledge to bring more fresh food options to the community. Before the store’s opening, Englewood was a food desert.
Then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the store would bring more investments to the community. The city devoted $10.7 million in tax-increment financing in 2014 for infrastructure upgrades at the Englewood Square development to bring the store to fruition. The project also received $13.5 million in federal tax credits, according to Crain’s.
In May, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the market’s closure “a great disappointment” and “gut blow” to Englewood.
The store was an “interesting experiment” accomplished by Emanuel, but ultimately it was too expensive for the neighborhood and often empty when “grocery stores all over the city are absolutely crowded with people,” Lightfoot said in May.
“To me, what it underscores — and I wasn’t here when this decision was made — you cannot bring investment to the community without talking to the community and making sure the investment makes sense for that community,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot vowed to work alongside community leaders to make investments “that make sense for those in the community.”
Leon Walker, the managing partner of DL3 Realty, which spearheaded the $20 million Englewood Square development, said in May the store was a success in encouraging other businesses to commit to the square, but it couldn’t perfect the “science of grocery” to create a store well-received with local customers.
Lightfoot and Walker welcomed the opportunity to work with a new grocer in Whole Foods’ place.
“There’s an opportunity that needs to be brought to the front here and explored with great operators in the space that could really do something special here,” Walker said in May. “It’s not often you’re going to get a fully built store of this quality to be available for turnkey operations. This is a great example of how we could all work together to find the right brand, the right operator for this time.”
Whole Foods Market joins a list of grocery stores to close on the South and West sides this year, shocking neighbors.
An Aldi in Auburn Gresham abruptly closed in June, removing a low-cost option for fresh food in the neighborhood. Neighbors said they weren’t informed about the closure until they visited the store, which was boarded up and had a “closed” banner along the side.
An Aldi in West Garfield Park also closed with little warning in October, creating a food desert in a neighborhood battling food scarcity. Neighbors didn’t know about the closure until a sign was removed and workers were seen clearing the store.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) announced a City Council resolution for a hearing “to examine the failure of the city of Chicago food access policies to meet the needs of underserved residents” in June.
Thirty-eight alderpeople, including Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th), whose ward includes Whole Foods, signed onto the two-page resolution in June.
Whole Foods failed the community, Coleman said in June.
“The fact that they did this after six years when we celebrated their five-year anniversary as a part of Englewood excellence put a dagger in our hearts,” Coleman said in June. ”We’re not a failure. They failed us.”
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