Photo by Joe Boyle
Stores near Carson’s in the new Plaza development are nearly completed with several of them scheduled to open by the end of September. But 365 by Whole Foods Market, which was scheduled to join the Plaza project, is on hold after Amazon bought the franchise.
Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said that Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market will not deter future progress on the development of the new Plaza that is currently anchored by Carson’s at 9800 S. Western Ave.
Amazon’s planned purchase of Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion is expected to take place at the end of the year. With that transaction scheduled to occur, what does this mean for 365 by Whole Foods Markets, a lower-cost option to the more upscale Whole Foods?
365 by Whole Food Markets was scheduled to be a prominent feature in the new Plaza development, three doors down from TJ Maxx. Sexton would prefer the more economical 365 store, but has no problem with a Whole Foods Market, based out of Austin, Texas, if that is the decision by Amazon.
“We won’t know until a few months from now,” said Sexton. “We won’t know until their management gets together and decides what they want to do.”
But Sexton believes whatever decision Amazon makes, a Whole Foods store will be part of the Plaza development, which replaces the once iconic Evergreen Plaza.
“It’s in limbo right now,” the mayor said. “But we have a 20-year lease with Whole Foods and I don’t see that changing. It’s just a little slow down, that’s all.”
The 365 version of Whole Foods would be 30,000 square feet. It would be flanked by Rally House on the south and Carter’s Oshkosh to the north. The Whole Foods 365 project was viewed favorably by village officials for shoppers on tighter budgets. Carson’s, which opened last September, has performed well. It is also the largest structure in the development project at 120,470 square feet. Whole Foods 365 would be third in size, trailing only Dick’s Sporting Goods, which will be 49,327 square feet.
Officials from Whole Foods could not say when the Evergreen Park store will open. Future plans for Whole Foods are on hold until the purchase becomes final, according to Whole Foods representatives.
However, Sexton views the delay as temporary and the project as a whole is moving right along.
“TJ Maxx will open by September,” said Sexton. “Most of those stores are already built up and should be operating by the end of September. “Petco could be the first operating there, along with Rally House.”
Other stores that could be operating by the end of August and September could be DSW and Ulta. Signs have been posted near the development indicating that Five Below will be opening soon.
Sexton also said that businesses and restaurants will be opening up facing Western Avenue from 98th Street south to 95th Street north. A remaining remnant to the old Plaza, which began to be torn down in the fall of 2015, is the Applebee’s restaurant outlet near 95th Street. Planet Fitness is the other facility that was open when the old Mall was up. It remains at what was the northern point of the old Plaza facing 95th Street.
“The way I understand it, everything is running smooth and one time,” said Sexton. “Everything is going well, and I expect we will have Whole Foods, too.”