Whole Foods to Leave for North Bethesda
Loss of Congressional Plaza anchor elicits mixed feelings
Whole Foods Market in Congressional Plaza will make the jump to the new North Bethesda Market near White Flint this spring.
"The Whole Foods Market in Rockville is excited to be moving to a new location at the North Bethesda Market," Ivy Goldberg, a Whole Foods spokeswoman wrote in an email. "There are many factors that we look at when considering a new site and the North Bethesda Market offers a location that will increase store offerings and create a shopping experience that is tailored to the local customer base."
Whole Foods is expected to move into the new 220,000-square-foot space near Nicholson Lane and Rockville Pike in April. It will anchor the new mixed-use development along with LA Fitness, which is expected to open in January and will feature a 24-story residential tower.
Details of the move are "still coming together," Goldberg said.
Also with signed leases for the new center are: Orlando, FL-based chain restaurant Seasons 52, which will have 9,971 square feet and is expected to open in April; Arhaus Furniture, which will have 26,000 square feet and is expected to open in February; and Italian restaurant Dolce Amore Café, which will have 1,400 square feet and has yet to announce its opening date.
JBG Rosenfeld manages the retail component of the development, a joint venture between Rosenfeld Realty and The JBG Cos.
The project is complete with only the final punch list items left to do, said Erin Gelzer, JBG's development manager for the North Bethesda Market.
In addition to the retail space, the North Bethesda Market includes 400 apartment units.
"We are 72 percent leased for the retail space," Gelzer said. All leases are for 20-year terms.
Lynne Benzion, associate director for Rockville Economic Development, Inc., said she believes that the space at Congressional Plaza left vacant from Whole Foods won't be hard to fill.
"It is prime space and Congressional is a great center that does very well," she said. Other anchor tenants at Congressional Plaza, which is located at the intersection of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road, include Buy Buy Baby and The Container Store. The center totals 332,000 square feet and is owned by Federal Realty Investment Trust.
"Moving into a new development is a business decision for Whole Foods," Benzion said. "When your lease is up you look for a different opportunity, and that is the nature of doing business."
Eileen Leven, manager of Banner Hallmark at Congressional Plaza, said she believes that when Whole Foods moves out, so will many of her customers.
"I think it will affect us a lot," Leven said. "We get a lot of spillover from them." Her choice to replace Whole Foods: Another grocery store.
"Grocery stores bring shoppers once a week. We would like a draw like that," she said.
Jay Wilkie's business, Congressional Aquarium, is located on the backside of Congressional Plaza where it's been for the past 44 years. He doesn't think Whole Foods' move will make much of a difference to him.
"We are a destination store. I didn't know anything about Whole Foods moving," he said.