S.J. Collins Enterprises

Whole Foods opening pending as new tenants join Tech Center development

Tech Center Progress

The signs are up, the parking lot is striped and yet the question still remains: When will the Newport News Whole Foods open?

"We'll have news on the Whole Foods Market Newport News store opening date soon," said Katie Malloy, Whole Foods spokeswoman.

But despite the vague opening date, which has become a typical communications strategy for the organic food giant, company officials said Whole Foods is serious about opening its Newport News location.

Malloy said the company is preparing to open its newest store on the Peninsula by making a few hires for team members. The firm is also soliciting help from the public to help design the Newport News store via its Facebook page — Whole Foods Market Newport News — where the top design could net the winner a $200 gift card.

Whole Foods is also casting a wide net for vendors to help stock the store with farm-fresh produce and items that are produced throughout Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina, Malloy said.

The company plans to meet with a number of potential local suppliers from up to 100 miles away on Sept. 9, Malloy said, adding that the grocer is still accepting pitches from area suppliers.

Meanwhile, much of the Marketplace at Tech Center development is taking shape.

The development contractors overseeing the mammoth 250,000-square-foot retail project — Georgia-based S.J. Collins and Newport News-based W.M. Jordan — plan to deliver all of the buildings in the development by November — just in time for the holiday shopping season.

However, that's not stopping a number of new and existing market retailers from flowing into the 100-acre mixed-use project.

Even as some of the retail stores and restaurants are open, construction continues at the Tech Center in Newport News.

More than 10 restaurants and stores are set to join the Marketplace development, located at Jefferson Avenue and Oyster Point Roads, this month.

The long-anticipated P.F. Chang's restaurant, an Asian fusion eatery, plans to open this month.

Café Rio, a restaurant that coins itself as an authentic "made-from-scratch" Mexican eatery, is planning a grand opening Sept. 16, according to its Facebook page.

"We've worked really hard to bring unique and new-to-the-Peninsula restaurants and retailers to the Marketplace at Tech Center," said Jeff Garrison with S.J. Collins. "Some of these restaurants are going to blow people's minds in Hampton Roads. This is the first restaurant in the region for Café Rio. Other locations on the West Coast and in Northern Virginia have lines out the door for their hand-made tortillas and all fresh ingredients."

Jimmy Johns, Mellow Mushroom Pizza and Zoe's Kitchen are also set to open this month at Tech Center.

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse and Starbucks recently opened at the development in August.

Retailer DSW, an Ohio-based designer and name-brand shoe store, plans to open its first Peninsula location Thursday.

Ulta and Five Below, which currently operate locations in the Jefferson Commons Shopping Center at 12551 Jefferson Ave., will also open in the Oyster Point area development.

Both Ulta and Five Below have not announced whether they plan to shutter their stores in Jefferson Commons upon opening up at the Tech Center development.

Officials with Five Below and Ulta did not return phone calls or an email for comment Wednesday evening.

Mattress Firm, Conte's Bike Shop, Carter's/OshKosh, Hi-Ho Silver and the Hair Cuttery, are also preparing for September debuts.

"We are so pleased to see this emerge as a shopping and dining destination," said John Lawson, CEO of W.M. Jordan, in a statement. "This is the first phase of Tech Center, and we anticipate drawing people from the Peninsula and beyond to experience the wide range of offerings."