It’s official: Whole Foods to open store in Mandeville _lowres

 

Confirming months of rumor, Stirling Properties announced Thursday that a Whole Foods Market is set to open in Mandeville near the intersection of U.S. 190 and North Causeway Boulevard.

Earlier this week, an Albertsons store at that same location announced it would close by Feb. 13, costing as many as 83 employees their jobs.

The new store will be the first Whole Foods on the north shore, joining the three in New Orleans and Metairie. The Austin, Texas-based upscale grocer also has stores in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. One in Shreveport is set to open later this year.

The Mandeville store is projected to open in the first quarter of 2016.

The news was greeted with glee by Donna Flynn, who started a Facebook page urging the retailer to open a store on the north shore. The page has garnered more than 6,000 likes since February.

“I am so excited,” Flynn said Thursday. “It’s about dang time.”

Flynn said she was motivated to start the page after she and her husband began to try to eat a more healthy diet. Several times, she said, they would have to go to more than one store to find the items they wanted. Sometimes, they would make stops in Metairie or Baton Rouge while traveling just to shop at the Whole Foods stores there.

Mandeville City Councilwoman Carla Buchholz said she was “delighted” by the news.

“I like their antibiotic-free, whole-grain-fed chickens,” she said. “I like the freshness.”

Earlier in the week, two other councilmen, Ernest Burguières and Rick Danielson, said they, too, would welcome the retailer to Mandeville. Mayor Donald Villere also welcomed the company.

In its 35-year history, Whole Foods Market has grown from a single store in Austin with 19 employees to a 404-store, 87,000-employee corporate behemoth. Whole Foods had sales of more than $14 billion in 2014, according to the company’s website.

Kristina Bradford, a Whole Foods spokeswoman, said the company had been looking to open a north shore location for at least a dozen years and that company officials were “excited” about finally getting a location.

Although the Whole Foods store is moving into the Albertsons space in the Premier Shopping Center, it won’t occupy the entire 60,000 square feet that Albertsons did. Whole Foods will take about two-thirds of that space; the rest is available for lease, according to Roslyn Pellegrin, of Stirling Properties.

Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.