As Whole Foods Prepares to Leave Englewood, Company Plans to Open New River North Store

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Last Friday, Whole Foods Market announced plans to close its store in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, six years after opening the grocery store to great fanfare.

The South Side store is among six planned closures announced by the grocery store chain nationwide, including a second at Chicago's DePaul University campus.

The company said the decision was part of a plan to "position Whole Foods Market for long-term success."

"We are supporting impacted Team Members through this transition and expect that all interested, eligible Team Members will find positions at our other locations,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said at the time of the announcement.

Meanwhile, just days before the announcement, on the other side of town, the grocer announced the opening of a brand new, 65,956-square-foot Whole Foods Market inside the One Chicago high-rise building at 3 W. Chicago Ave., on the border between Chicago’s River North and Gold Coast neighborhood.

According to a news release, "the store’s design is inspired by the historic homes, storefronts and gourmet restaurants of the surrounding neighborhoods with elements like elegant arches, recycled handmade tiles and glazed brick."

The store also includes a full-service seafood counter with fresh oysters, a taproom and full-service coffee bar.

The release states that the new store will serve as a relocation of the existing Chicago store located at 30 W. Huron St.

City officials have criticized the company's decision to pull out of the South Side location, including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who called the move "disappointing."

"My immediate worry is for the workers in both locations. Amazon must now take clear steps to protect those workers as they transition to new opportunities," Lightfoot said in a statement. "Having been in both of those stores many times over the years, I saw first-hand how those workers gave their heart and soul to make the stores a success. Together with both communities and local elected leaders, my administration will work to repurpose these locations in a way that continues to serve the community and support the surrounding businesses. We as a city will continue to work hard to close food deserts that meet community needs with community at the table.” 

The Amazon-owned company was not specific about closing dates, saying the six shuttered stores will close in the coming months.

The 18,000-square-foot Englewood store, at 832 W. 63rd Street, opened in 2016 with relentless push from then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, amid concerns about whether residents of the impoverished South Side ward could afford to shop there. It required a nearly $11 million city subsidy for site preparation.

While Chicago's Englewood neighborhood has small markets, Aldi, at 620 W. 63rd St, is now the area's largest grocery store, at 12,000 square feet.

Chicago's River North neighborhood is home to several specialty markets, along with a Jewel-Osco at 550 N. State St. and a Trader Joe's at 44 N. Ontario.

In Streeterville, less than a mile away, at 255 E. Grand, is another Whole Foods location.

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