Whole Foods set to expand downtown presence

Jun 26, 2014
Austin American Statesman

Whole Foods is expanding its presence in Austin, leasing an additional 40,000 square feet of office space in a development under construction near the company’s downtown headquarters


The Austin-based organic food chain confirmed Wednesday that it plans to lease the space at the Bowie, a new mixed-use tower near West Fifth and Bowie streets. The company said workers will move into the new office space next year


“As we look to support our company’s long-term growth, we have secured approximately 40,000 square feet of future office space, in addition to the offices we currently have in Austin,” said Whole Foods spokeswoman Kate Lowery. “We plan to begin to occupying a portion of this new lease sometime in 2015, further committing Whole Foods Market to our strong downtown presence.”


Whole Foods is one of Austin’s highest-profile companies, with about 2,800 employees in Central Texas, 84,000 companywide and 386 stores in North America and Europe. The retailer has big expansion plans ahead, with projections it will hit 500 stores by 2017 and 1,200 stores long term


“The growth of locally based companies such as Whole Foods, who have called downtown home for years, along with the influx of new companies … continues to fuel the positive surge in Austin’s booming central business district,” said Rick Whiteley, a partner with Oxford Commercial, a commercial real estate firm in Austin


The new lease signals plans are dead for Whole Foods to move into a 20-story building that was slated to be built adjacent to the retailer’s downtown headquarters on Lamar Boulevard


In early 2012, Schlosser Development Corp. was planning a two-tower project slated for 2.7-acre parking lot site bounded by West Fifth, Bowie and West Sixth streets and Shoal Creek. At the time, Whole Foods said it was running out of office space for its corporate workers and could be moving new workers into the Schlosser project by 2015


Instead, Whole Foods will be moving into the Bowie, a project being developed by Austin-based Endeavor Real Estate Group and San Antonio-based Lynd Co.The 36-story tower on Bowie Street will add 358 apartments downtown, along with the office space


Currently, Whole Foods has about 280,000 square feet in Austin office space spread across locations on Bowie Street, Las Cimas Parkway in West Austin and their Southwest regional office at 1105 N. Lamar Blvd near 12th Street. Locally, the grocer has five stores and it operates its 200,000-square-foot headquarters from atop the company’s flagship store at 525 N. Lamar Blvd


The retailer also has a distribution center in East Austin totaling 143,000 square feet, Lowery said



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