Developer Sues Whole Foods over Halted Seattle Store Project

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Developer Sues Whole Foods over Halted Seattle Store Project

A Seattle developer is suing Whole Foods Market for $67.9 million in damages because it has stopped construction on a new unit planned as the anchor for a project in Seattle's Interbay neighborhood.

The developer of the Interbay Urban Center project, TRF Pacific, said the Austin, Texas-based natural grocer has not responded to the lawsuit. Whole Foods declined to comment on the suit for an article in the Seattle Times. On its Web site, the chain stills lists the stores as "in development."

Whole Foods said in August it would proceed with plans for new stores at Interbay and West Seattle, even though it scaled back new-store openings after a third quarter drop in profit.

In the suit, TRF Pacific, which completed two other stores for the natural/organic grocer, accuses Whole Foods of breach of contract. When construction halted, Whole Foods told TRF that sales projections required shrinking the store from 60,000 square feet to about 40,000 square feet, according to the lawsuit. The chain delayed the store opening from Dec. 2008 to Oct. or Nov. 2009 due to cash flow problems, said TRF. In September, a week before TRF was scheduled to turn over the building shell to Whole Foods, the grocer told the developer it was terminating its lease due to TRF's failure to satisfy unspecified conditions in their agreements, the lawsuit said.