Whole Foods sets its sights on the Inland Empire

Whole Foods is promoting its new store in Claremont. But the proposed market on Base Line Road and Monte Vista Avenue is not quite what it seems.

In a press release titled “365 by Whole Foods Market Announces Five New Store Locations,” sent out on February 10, 2016, the grocery chain proclaimed that five new 365 by Whole Foods Market stores would open with three locations in California—Concord, Claremont and Los Alamitos, “as well as a location in Evergreen Park, Illinois outside of Chicago, and Gainesville, Florida.”

In response to a request for information about the purported Claremont location, Peter McCormack, who handles PR for Whole Foods, wrote “The details you’ve requested have yet to be released but we will be in touch soon as they are available. We’ve made a note of your inquiry.”

While the entire 80,000-square-foot Sycamore Hills Plaza will straddle the city and county line between Upland and Claremont, the grocery store is squarely situated in the city of Upland.

“The fact is that the building is entirely in Upland. By law, all sales tax from sales at Whole Foods go entirely to Upland,” said Jeff Zwack, Upland’s Director of Development.

A site map provided by Mr. Zwack shows that the Whole Foods building is not in Claremont. Whole Foods has billed the new market as a Claremont, business but Mr. Zwack refutes the assertion.

“It’s unfortunate that Whole Foods stated that the store is in Claremont, because that is false,” Mr. Zwack related.

Claremont City Manager Tony Ramos confirms this assessment.

“I agree with the city of Upland. I have seen the development plans and the Whole Foods market is clearly situated within the boundaries of the city of Upland.”

The site map shows only two retail pads within Claremont city boundaries—a 7000-square-foot retail space along Base Line Road and a 9000-square-foot space along the 210 freeway. Tenants for these buildings have not been identified.

Grading for the center has already begun, but the overall concept for the center is still being fine-tuned. TR Gregory of the developer GPI Companies said he anticipates at least two restaurants and a drug store in addition to Whole Foods serving as the anchor tenant.

“It’s part of an overall mixed-used project to include 400 new homes east of the center in Upland,” he said.

The Whole Foods lease was signed under a new store concept, “365 by Whole Foods Market,” which aims to offer a “lower priced, no frills, smaller footprint format.”

—Kathryn Dunn



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