March 16, 2007

Whole Foods expansion on; Wild Oats project continues

BOULDER – Wild Oats and Whole Foods, the two natural foods giants that announced their merger two weeks ago, are each moving ahead with separate expansions in Boulder that were planned months and years before their pending merger.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market, which is spending $565 million on its rival, is in the process of more than doubling its space at Crossroad Commons.

“We’re operating business completely as if nothing had happened,´ said Cathy Cochran-Lewis, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods. “Nothing has been put on hold. Nothing has changed or altered or stopped at all.”

Regency Centers, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based shopping center management company that operates Crossroad Commons, said it’s moving ahead with its plans to expand the Whole Foods location, along with an entire redevelopment of the shopping center at 28th and Pearl streets.

The Crossroad Commons redevelopment includes expanding the 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods to 87,349 square feet and adding a rooftop patio.

Regency had slated to begin redevelopment in January, but circumstances unrelated to Whole Foods have caused a delay, according to Regency Regional Officer Deb Froeb. “We hope to submit our plans shortly,” she said.

Just a few blocks away, Wild Oats Markets is continuing construction of its flagship 35,000-square-foot store at Twenty Ninth Street.

Despite conjecture from local natural foods sources that Whole Foods might not want to keep its Twenty Ninth Street store after the merger, Wild Oats officials said the store will open this spring.  “We’re moving forward with construction, and people are in there every day,´ said spokeswoman Christa Coleman.

Lain Adams, senior property manager of Twenty Ninth Street, said construction is going according to schedule, and Wild Oats told him the store would open in mid-April. Twenty Ninth Street owner Macerich and Wild Oats have some “grand opening marketing things we are collaborating on,” he said.

Coleman said the store’s opening date hasn’t been set, and orientation for new store employees has been put on hold.

She also doesn’t know what the future will hold for Wild Oats’ corporate headquarters at Twenty Ninth Street.

Neither does Whole Foods.

“We don’t know what we will be doing in regards to any Wild Oats properties, including the corporate headquarters,” Cochran-Lewis said.

Decisions won’t be made until after the deal closes, she said. “We are two separate companies until we get SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) approval. This is weeks away from approval.”

Staff Writer David Clucas contributed to this story.

BOULDER – Wild Oats and Whole Foods, the two natural foods giants that announced their merger two weeks ago, are each moving ahead with separate expansions in Boulder that were planned months and years before their pending merger.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market, which is spending $565 million on its rival, is in the process of more than doubling its space at Crossroad Commons.

“We’re operating business completely as if nothing had happened,´ said Cathy Cochran-Lewis, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods. “Nothing has been put on hold. Nothing has changed or altered or stopped at all.”

Regency Centers, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based shopping center…

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