Building Update is a regular feature highlighting progress on development projects throughout the region.
Project name: Whole Foods
Address: Northtown Plaza, Amherst
Developer: WS Development
Cost: $5 million
Description: Construction of area's first Whole Foods store, at Northtown Plaza
Completion date: uncertain
Lowdown: After months of delays and years of anticipation, national grocery chain Whole Foods Inc. has filed for a building permit for its new Amherst store, initiating the construction process that will lead to a new 50,000-square-foot supermarket.
The Austin, Texas-based retailer has applied to the Town of Amherst Building Department for permission to start work on its construction project at the Northtown Plaza on Sheridan Drive. The application listed the project's value as $5 million, although the company has previously said it would be a $15 million store.
No other details were available from the town, and officials at Whole Foods and WS Development – the Boston-based firm that bought the plaza last year and is leading its redevelopment – could not be reached for comment.
WS Development has previously said it would seek to start construction in the spring, erect the shell of the store, and then turn it over to Whole Foods for interior work by mid-year. After that, it will be a year until the store opens for business in mid-2017.
The firm has demolished the 100,000-square-foot, two-story Bon-Ton department store that had stood on the eastern end of the plaza, and also rebuilt the entranceway, parking islands and some landscaping in that part of the plaza, in preparation for the new store.
Meanwhile, the developer's plans for the rest of the aging plaza are still unclear, although it has talked of a thorough overhaul that would bring national clothing, accessory and other retailers into the shopping center. Many of the longtime tenants have already vacated their space and relocated elsewhere, as their leases ended and rents rose sharply.