Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton received the news Friday that he was expecting. Whole Foods Markets will continue with plans for its more economical version 365 store that will join other retail outlets at the new Evergreen Plaza development next year.
However, that bright moment was dampened somewhat by officials from Dick’s Sporting Goods, who have decided to back out of plans to open a facility at the new Plaza.
“They had something in their contract that that if Whole Foods 365 was not going to open when scheduled, they can back out,” said Sexton. “Hey, what can you do? These things happen. But (the developers) are looking at a couple of retail businesses right now and it looks like we will have something.”
Sexton was confident that when Amazon announced the purchase of Whole Foods in July that the store would still find a home in the Evergreen Park development. The only question in the mayor’s mind is would Amazon want the more upscale and pricy Whole Foods instead of its 365 store that is more economical?
The mayor was willing to accept either option. However, he preferred the 365 store that would be more acceptable to middle class shoppers.
“Their prices are more in line in what our residents can afford,” said Sexton. “I think this is a good fit for us and what I wanted all along.”
The initial fear was that Amazon would eliminate the 365 stores. But last Thursday, Mike Bashaw, the Midwest region president for Whole Foods, said they have decided to move ahead with the smaller format stores. The two companies had to wait until the merger became complete on Aug. 28 before they made a decision.
Amazon officials said they had to take their time to decide in which direction they planned to move. The future plans for Whole Foods will feature 365 stores, which will include the new Evergreen Plaza.
The only drawback was that this allowed to Dick’s Sporting Goods to drop out of the project because the opening of the Whole Foods 365 store will be delayed from the fall until 2018. The 365 store will be 30,000 square feet. It is scheduled to be flanked by Bally House and Carter’s Oshkosh.
Carson’s was the first retail business to open in the new Plaza development at 9800 S. Western Ave. in September of 2016. They have since been joined by DSW, a shoe store, and Five Below. TJ-Maxx is also joining the development. A Dressbarn will also be included in the new Plaza plans.
But Dick’s Sporting Goods would have been another anchor at the opposite end of Carson’s, which is 120,470 square feet. The Dick’s Sporting Goods site is 49,327 square feet.
But Sexton again emphasized that the Lormax Stern Development Company, out of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., that is overseeing the Plaza project, does have a couple of retailers in mind.
“We are moving along,” said Sexton.