Sarasota County Commission approves new Whole Foods Market

Sarasota County Commission approves new Whole Foods Market

SARASOTA -- The Sarasota County Commission voted Wednesday to approve a new 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market in on the corner of University Parkway and Honore Avenue.

The North Sarasota location will be larger than the store in downtown Sarasota and will include prepared foods, salad and soup stations, a juice bar and bakery.

"We are excited to have a good community partner like Whole Foods in our back yard," said Alice Wamble, a neighbor who lives behind the property and spoke in favor of the project to the commission. "We have lived here for 30 years and this is the first project we have supported due to the company's willingness to listen to our needs and the quality of the products they will provide."

Developer S.J. Collins Enterprises cited the success of the downtown store and overwhelming support for the Whole Foods brand in the marketplace as driving factors for the second location in Sarasota County.

"This second store will take some of the burden off of the existing extremely busy and smaller downtown Whole Foods location," said Jeff Garrison, partner at S.J. Collins Enterprises. "It will also allow Whole Foods to feature its full brand and amenities at this new location."

S.J. Collins Enterprises will also bring Wawa to the center through a joint partnership with Brightwork Real Estate.

Additionally, Zoe's Kitchen, a Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant has already signed a lease, and another six spots are available for boutique retail shops and/or fast-casual restaurants.

Salaries at Whole Foods average about $40,000 per year, and a store this size will employ approximately 140 people plus employ local subcontractors to help build the store.

The organic grocer was the first major retailer in the United States to offset 100 percent of its energy use with wind energy credits. Whole Foods' downtown Sarasota location received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

"Demographics show that Whole Foods' customers are traveling from Lakewood Ranch, north Sarasota and Manatee County to shop at the downtown store," said Garrison. "This new location will prevent that traffic from congesting the downtown roadways and has a regional draw. It's close to the interstate and other already-established shopping, and it has excellent neighborhood accessibility."

Speakers in favor of project included neighbors, an employee from nearby business IntegraClick, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builder's Exchange Mary Dougherty-Slapp, executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance Heather Kasten and Charlie Hunsicker of the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department.

The developer will break ground in March 2016 for an estimated completion in the summer of 2017.

S.J. Collins Enterprises is a privately held, commercial real estate development firm headquartered in Fairburn, Ga.

Read more here: