The company building the new Whole Foods Market in Amherst expects to finish construction by late August.
Scott Finn, the project manager for Picone Construction Co., told The Buffalo News the company is on track to turn over the completed store to Whole Foods in the weeks before Labor Day. That is "pretty close" to the original construction timeline, Finn said in the first substantial update on the store's progress since January.
Buffalo Niagara shoppers have watched for progress on the area's first Whole Foods, the grocery chain known for its wide selection of organic and natural products, which is going up in the Northtown Plaza on the site of a former Bon-Ton department store.
It's unclear, if Picone hands over the store shortly before Labor Day, how quickly Whole Foods can fill the store with groceries and with a trained workforce to open it to customers. Ted Kwong, a spokesman for Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has consistently said the store will open this summer but has declined to elaborate.
“We are excited to bring the highest quality natural and organic products to Buffalo and look forward to being part of this community," Kwong said in an email Monday.
Whole Foods and WS Development, the Massachusetts-based company that is redeveloping Northtown Plaza, announced the store was coming to Amherst in 2014. Work began in July 2016 on the $15 million store on the eastern end of the plaza at 3097 Sheridan Drive, near Niagara Falls Boulevard.
"We built the shell of the building for the developer," Finn said, and Picone now is performing the interior work on behalf of Whole Foods.
The interior walls are up, and crews have applied drywall, he said. They are waiting to paint the walls and apply tile and floor finishes.
Some of the final work includes installing kitchen equipment, the cases for prepared food and the racks and shelves on which food is displayed.
Building plans filed in January show the 50,000-square-foot, single-story store has the standard bakery, dairy, pizza and sushi areas, as well as several unusual features that are part of the final construction work.
It will have a bocce court, a tap room – a casual restaurant that offers beer – and trellises mounted to either side of the building with vines growing along the outside up to the roof.
The bocce court, Finn said, "is one of the last things we are going to do."
Crews recently finished pouring sidewalks and curbs outside the store and added landscaping around the building, Finn said.
On any given day, between 50 and 100 workers are on the site.