Whole Foods in moving mode

Oracle store will close, reopen on East River Rd.
2012-11-03T00:00:00Z Whole Foods in moving modePhil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 03, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Whole Foods Market at 7133 N. Oracle Road will close Dec. 31 and move to a location on East River Road in January, a representative from the grocery chain said.

The store will reopen at 5555 E. River Road, at the northeast corner of River and North Craycroft roads, in mid-January.

Whole Foods plans to tear down the Oracle Road location and rebuild it, re-opening as a two-story store with double the square footage in October or November 2013.

That's three or four months behind the timetable announced by Casas Adobes Plaza co-owner Richard Shenkarow in 2011. He said the project has not been delayed, but that the original timetable was rough, and the new completion date is more firm now that permits have been attained.

The Tucson area's only other Whole Foods is at 3360 E. Speedway, although Shenkarow said he's working with Whole Foods on building another Tucson store at a "central strategic location servicing the University of Arizona and the surrounding neighborhoods with direct access to the new light-rail system."

While northwest-siders may lament the temporary loss of their Whole Foods, some Foothills residents are giddy at the prospect of shopping at the store.

"It won't be the only place we shop, but really will be a tremendous convenience because we're always coming back from the (Jewish Community Center)," said Stuart Shatken, who walked past the construction site with his wife, Andy, on Friday.

"It rounds out the corner in terms of having gas available, and then Whole Foods available, knowing we can always get fresh produce," Andy said.

The current, 16,000-square-foot Oracle Whole Foods and its 1947 building will be torn down in February. When it reopens in October or November, it will be replaced with a two-story, 32,000-square-foot store, with a mezzanine and Whole Foods offices on the upper level.

The building will be built in adobe to flow with the rest of the architecture in the plaza, which was designed in the 1940s by a protégé of prominent Tucson architect Josias Joesler.

Shenkarow said a Starbucks will open in the center in March.

"This project has been 15 years in the works from when we first purchased the property," Shenkarow said. "It was a total redevelopment and repositioning of it. The new Whole Foods store is the final major component of the property."

News of more Whole Foods locations in town is good for the store's devotees.

"We eat very healthy," Stuart Shatken said. "So having that option is great."

DID YOU KNOW?

Reay's Ranch Market and then Wild Oats preceded Whole Foods Market at the 7133 N. Oracle Road site in recent years. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods bought out Wild Oats in 2007.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at pvillarreal@azstarnet.com or 573-4130.

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