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Jan 28, 2008


Michael Davis-Dallas Progress

Interesting stuff. As a plan commissioner, I look forward to hearing this case which I'm sure will bring some spirited debate. On the other hand, it's great for the neighborhood either way it goes. As a customer of multiple whole foods including the one on Greenville, I can say that the newer Whole Foods are definitely a step up.

I'm glad you said that the overall plan commission will "likely follow their lead" instead of pushing the idea that we always vote in lockstep with other commissioners in their districts. If people see the amount of time we spend on cases week in and week out, they'd know otherwise. Bob Weiss is a great asset to our commission.

Just a hint on the aspect of "following someone's lead" It happens sometimes. When it does, it's usually because the commissioner has spent a lot of time in their district on an issue. However, we have a ton a 9-6 and 8-7 votes on many issues.

Again, a great post!


Oh my, that is depressing. I bet if you polled residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, 90 percent would agree to Whole Food's site plan, and ask that they get started on it yesterday. How is it that the other 10 percent can hold this up so much, with I fear the very real possibility of killing it? All I know is that if the Whole Foods gets built it will be great for the neighborhoods, if it doesn't, it will be very bad.

Kyle Rains

That PD was throughly discussed and vetted back in the 80s and the whole area had to come to a concensus. I was one of those on the less restrictive side and I can tell you I had a few people angry with me. And all I wanted was a 2-3-4-5-6 story gradient limit instead of a one-story limit - my reasoning being we needed critical mass for improvements to the shopping center - which was unsure back then.

I think the points you made about Richmond are on target. But what really is the reason Whole Foods can't move the thing closer to the Abrams streetscape instead of behind a sea of parking?

And I still like the roof restaurant idea, that would be a great view..

Norman Alston

There has been over the years a concerted effort by concerned neighborhood residents to develop and implement a vision for this area that provides for improvement not only to the Minyards site, but the neighborhood as a whole. That vision is embodied within PD 281. Meetings were held and a consultant paid for to develop this vision. PD 281 is Home Grown, not something handed down from outsiders.

It focuses on how development occurs along Abrams (Not Richmond. Sorry Rick). I was not part of this effort but I personally think it is both appropriate for the kind of neighborhood we have and reasonable to expect it to be followed. It's a good idea if we'll just show enough spine to do it. Not to mention treating other neighbors fairly who have already invested in our neighborhood and have willingly followed the PD. I think we should support the PD and the folks who did the heavy lifting to bring it to us. It seems the least those of us previously on the sidelines and benefiting from the effort can do.

I would also encourage my neighbors to not succumb to the argument that "It may not conform, but it's better than we have now." That's the easiest cop-out out there is and could be used to water down every zoning ordinance and building code on the books. Let's not.

Rick Wamre

Whole Foods assumed a long-term lease for the entire property from Minyard's, but the property is really two separate parcels owned by two separate owners. The current Whole Foods design appears to abut the north property line of the southern parcel; Whole Foods can't move its building much or any farther south without encroaching on that parcel and probably being forced to negotiate a new lease agreement; I have no knowledge about that, but presumably they've considered that option. Failing that, Whole Foods could probably move the existing building more toward the middle of the entire site, stay clear of the southern parcel's property line, and wind up with parking on the Abrams and Gaston sides of the building. What I heard the Whole Foods people say at the meeting I attended is that configuration brings their delivery semis across the parking lot where grocery patrons are parking, so they didn't like that option. And, frankly, who would want to sit on a second-floor patio overlooking a parking lot as opposed to overlooking the country club?


I disagree with the conclusion that they won't ditch the idea if they get significant opposition. They are building a big new store near NorthPark, they may decide that enough of us will make that drive to close Greenville and skip Lakewood altogether. I think that is a genuine possibility.

Let's get it built. It really isn't a question of this or the second option. There isn't a second option. It's an excellent retailer with an excellent reputation or an empty storefront. We will regret it if this slips by.

Kyle Rains

Hey the roof deck would be overlooking the downtown skyline, Lakewood Theater, etc -- not really the parking lot! Maybe they could have two venues...


I respect all the work that was done for the PD, and am sure that it has been good for the neighborhoods. But, that seems to have been done in the 80s. I was still in high school. I have lived in the neighborhoods for close to 15 years, but even then that means I have had no input in the PD. To me, the PD was handed down by outsiders, as I had nothing to do with it and now it may be used to kill a very important (and to my mind very good) development for the neighborhoods. It seems to me that the PD should periodically come up for renewal or amendment as the needs (and residents) of the neighborhoods change.


Kudos to RW for full-disclosure of his residency.

What gets built will be with us for generations. It is imperative that the WF and the community get it right.

With regard to architectural details, I leave that to others more qualified on aesthetics of that sort.

What is important is that the building be sited in a manner that embraces the Lakewood retailing experience which is unique to Lakewood. Another big-box retail store, surrounded by an expanse of parking will not be a desirable contribution to the neighborhood, but will look more like Mockingbird at Abrams, than Lakewood.

Every effort should be made by WF to site the building along the Abrams frontage in a manner that is reflective of the street-level retail character that defines Lakewood. Renegotiating the under-lying ground lease would give WF the flexibility to re-design a different building footprint that embraces the intent of the PD.

The two-parcel ownership issue is a red herring. I haven’t heard any substantial comments from either Janet Dines Meridith (owner) or WF that reasonable efforts were made to accommodate a building footprint that conforms to the PD. For all we know JDM might be receptive to changes that benefit the community. Rather, WF is using the restrictions of the current ground lease to push a proposal that requires a zoning change, contrary to the PD. Every effort should be made by WF to properly site the building along Abrams, including re-negotiating the terms of their ground lease.

I echo the sentiments of N. Alston, not to panic into submission. I suspect that the economics of the underlying lease deal are very favorable to WF and that they are chomping-at-the bit to build in Lakewood. Compared to other new stores, which have hefty land acquisition costs, the Minyard’s site probably looks inexpensive, and the ground lease rent may be extremely low by today’s standards.

Bill Kennedy

Rick... Please take another look here at the site plan:

It does not appear that there's any way to relocate the building as proposed -- south or west. The agreement with the southern parcel owner, Janet Dines Meridith, allows WF to use that southern section only for parking. Any movement of the building would appear to contravene that.

That can only mean this can go one of 3 ways:
1) Time and money is spent getting the PD amended to accomodate WF as is
2) Time and money is spent to amend the WF building plan to echo the PD and stay out of the southern lot.
3) Time and money is spent to renegotiate the WF-JDM contract to allow the structure to cover a portion of the parking lot, therefore further amending their overall site plan.

I'm glad I don't have to bet on which one has the best odds of success. All involve time and money.

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