Requests by Whole Foods on Magazine Street for longer operating hours, more deliveries by 18-wheelers, live music and outdoor merchandise met a mixture of opposition and understanding during a neighborhood meeting Tuesday night, but the two sides tentatively agreed to return to the negotiating table in hopes of a compromise.
Whole Foods representatives argued most strenuously for more than 18-wheeler during the day, saying that limiting them to only one actually increases the traffic from slightly smaller trucks making deliveries during the day. Some of the requests, they noted, were simply ideas they thought they’d raise since they were revisiting their operating agreement with the city anyway.
“We’re not looking to stomp all over the neighborhood,” said Whole Foods manager Regina West.
A zoning subcommittee of the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association initially recommended opposing Whole Foods’ request for longer operating hours and more deliveries, but offered some limited acceptance of the idea of more live music at the store and more merchandise on its front patio. The neighbors’ strongest opposition was to loud business activity during sleeping hours, such as employees cleaning the exterior overnight or delivery trucks idling outside before 7 a.m., waiting for the store to open.
“Almost every neighbor was against earlier deliveries,” said board member Marilyn Feldmeier.
At the suggestion of board member Peggy Adams, the association agreed to meet again with Whole Foods try to negotiate a better solution to the requests than a mere up-or-down vote. Perhaps, Adams said, Whole Foods can offer the neighbors some relief to the parking (such as finding an off-site lot for employees) or a better delivery system in return for agreeing to more of their requests.
“I feel like there’s some room to mediate this,” Adams said.
Whole Foods is currently scheduled to take its requests to the City Planning Commission on April 26. If that meeting cannot be postponed, then the neighborhood’s initial recommendations against the requests will stand, they decided.
To read our live coverage of Tuesday night’s meeting, which includes updates on a handful of other issues facing the neighborhood, click “Replay” in the box below.