Whole Foods Market, along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has broken ground on a 150,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market Midwest distribution center in the Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, relocated from the retailer’s center in Munster, Ind.
Expected to open in early 2018, the new center will initially employ 150 people and serve up to 70 Whole Foods locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. It will be twice the size of its predecessor.
“There is a renaissance happening in Pullman, and this Whole Foods center will only make it stronger,” Emanuel said. “By investing in our neighborhoods and supporting projects like this distribution center, we are creating economic opportunities for families throughout Chicago. I want to thank Whole Foods for their continuing commitment to Chicago and our neighborhoods."
Investing in additional space to grow as the company expands its reach in Chicago and beyond, Whole Foods expects its new facility to bring real, long-term economic benefits to Pullman. The new distribution center will occupy previously empty land and allow Whole Foods to join two major suppliers, Method and Gotham Greens, in the neighborhood. It also will build on the company’s plan to serve Chicago’s South Side, including a recently opened location in Hyde Park and a store in Englewood that will open in the fall.
Additionally, the company is hosting a Whole Foods Market Job and Employment Resource Fair for the new store in Englewood on July 29-30. South Side residents can apply and interview for available positions as well as attend employment development workshops, sign up for child care and meet with workforce support organizations. Other businesses with employment opportunities, such as Starbucks, will also take applications from interested residents.
“We are thrilled to begin construction of our new distribution center,” Whole Foods Market Midwest Regional VP Bobby Turner said. “We’ve grown so much since opening our first Midwest store in Chicago in 1993, and as our growth continues, this distribution center helps us continue our mission of providing access to fresh, healthy foods and supporting the communities where we do business.”
The new center is among more than $225 million in public and private projects moving forward in Pullman, including the community’s 2015 designation as a National Monument by the U.S. Park Service for its historic affiliation with industry, land-use planning and workers’ rights; the 2015 construction of Method Products’ first U.S. factory and Gotham Green’s rooftop greenhouse; the 2014 construction of the $135 million Pullman Park retail development; the current construction of a $15 million community center; and improvements to dozens of historic homes and other properties. To ensure that the site was competitive with the existing facility in Indiana, the Chicago City Council approved up to $8.4 million in TIF assistance to help pay for site preparation costs, including grading, demolition and utility installation.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market operates more than 435 stores throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.