Apr 052011
 

Whole Foods Market - Arabella Station (Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

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.

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  • Just Sayin

    Whole Foods is a GROCERY STORE – plain and simple. It does not need live music or flowers or plants to bring in more customers. One 18 wheeler a day is more than enough; they have 75 trucks a day for goodness sake!! How many of these will go away if they have four 18 wheelers in there? I would bet not that many. Whole Foods is like trying to stuff 50 lbs. of manure in a 5 lb. sack. It is just too big for the space there – which is what Betsy Stout was trying to get the group to understand. They need to look at opening a 3rd location. Some of the neighbors suggested the old Schwegmann’s on Annunciation…what an excellent idea!

    I heard the neighbors don’t necessarily dislike Whole Foods; they are really just ticked off that Whole Foods is breaking the law every day, nothing happens to them and it is affecting the neighbors’ lives EVERY DAY. Walk a mile in their shoes and think about how you would feel if this was happening to you. Most of them were there before Whole Foods invaded their neighborhood. Who is watching out for the neighbors? Doesn’t look like ARNA is because they still want to negotiate with Whole Foods. What is Whole Foods doing for the neighbors – other than trashing their lives and not letting them get a good night’s sleep on any given night?

    Has anyone seen the trash around Whole Foods? I have been observing as I walk the blocks around the grocery store and see it in the streets all around the store. Another reason why I think the neighbors have had enough. I don’t blame them at all if they wanted Whole Foods to be someplace else.

    LOL to Brian K. – I call Double BS on Scott Wolfe!!!

    • William K.

      @Just Sayin,

      I live two blocks from Whole Foods. I moved into the neighborhood before they were open. I love Whole Foods. I am not “ticked off that that Whole Foods is breaking the law every day,” nor have I heard any of my neighbors mention this as a problem.

      I don’t need anyone “watching out” for me, particularly without contacting me first. I am perfectly capable of “watching out” for myself. Mind your own business, please.

      • Justin

        Living 2 blocks away from a big store is not the same as living in the same block or the next block. I have friends who live in the same block and it is very hard for me to visit them because of the parking problems. Maybe you are young and healthy and not empathetic with the older generation. Some of us used to be that way too.

  • http://www.slowsouthernstyle.com Christy

    I agree that it seems superfluous to have live music at Whole Foods. I shop there but a live band isn’t going to lure me in. A more obvious choice for supporting the locals is to carry more local products or even do a featured artist in the corridor that leads to the parking lot.

  • Mark

    I will travel the 8 blocks to whole foods once or twice a year if I need something very high end, but in general it’s not a very good store. Very little to nothing from local producers, and the prices are silly. Since Rouses on Tchoup remodeled it’s just as nice with high end products from LOCAL producers. The Cheese company on Prytaninia is excellent and La Boulangerie on Magazine for breads. Live entertainment would be nice ( I could use the work).

  • AJ

    The live music seems a bit silly to me. I like food shopping to be a relatively low stress, relaxed experience. Live music makes a normal routine now an ‘event.’ There are also plenty of excellent places all up and down magazine street and uptown to check out live music. As far as plants in front of the store, I’m all for that. And if you want to let local visual artists showcase some work there as well, that’d be a great thing.