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Feb 15, 2008



Let's hope we can all smoke the peace pipe as we have after other neighborhood battles (not that this was a battle - it was more of an un-spent salvo).

The old store provides an opportunity for a sidewalk bistro along Abrams. That would be a great place to hang out and pedestrian-friendly to Lakewood Country Club Estates. But I'm still not giving up on an aerie overlooking Lakewood and the view to Downtown.

We welcome you, Whole Foods!


So, it turns out Plan B was really Plan A. Within WF corporate I am sure it made no sense to spend $112/SF to build a new building on a piece of ground that they control for less than 21 years, which at the end of the lease they can get booted. Especially if renovation costs are a third or less ($35/SF).

And keep in mind, that in the next few years, 2 if not 3 of the four corners at Abrams and Mockingbird will be in play for re-development and a new grocery store. The folks at WF probably are keeping their eye on that location for themselves as well. So I see the renovation of the Minyards building as a short-term play for them.

In today's retailing market a small free-standing grocery store doesn't fit the WF model. For them to be competitive as a free-standing store they need to be 60,000 SF, anything smaller and they prefer to be a shadow-anchor in a shopping center. They are a short term player at the Abrams/Gaston location, and will vacate that building before the lease is up.

Lakewood residents need to look ahead, past WF as a tenant for the Abrams/Gaston location. The small site really makes no sense for a grocery store use, but should be utilized to expand the convenience retailing that Lakewood needs and would support.


Ahhh Im with JKR. I cant wait to dine outdoors at the bistro in the evening!!! The air heavy with exhaust, the moon....wait its blacked out by grackles coming in, and the sounds of family and community waltzing around Gaston and Abrams.....No wait thats the grackles too.
Simply divine!!!!


ryan we can wave to our friends driving by while we look cool with a wheat grass shot. The grackles never seemed to deter the swells at Genaro's and later the craic at The Tipp under those Live Oaks at Skillman and Live Oak.

Norman Alston

Yesterday I posted that the decision to remodel was a welcome one to me. I have looked forward to having a grocery store in the neighborhood again. I have also previously commented that I thought the demolition of a usable building was somewhat inconsistent with the WF's stated corporate philosophy. I am happy to move forward under these new circumstances.

It is in this light that I find Mr. Simons' comment number 6 above disappointing and out of place in an otherwise straight forward, useful explanation. It clearly conveys disappointment that their initial design concept was not universally welcomed and states clearly that he believes that some of our neighbors are distrustful. It complains in no uncertain terms that we in East Dallas must not be aware of their reputation for good design. Perhaps most galling is the comment: "We believed that we had a great reputation in East Dallas because we’d been in business for so long there, and that our community giving and business practices spoke for themselves." I can only read this as his assertion that we in East Dallas are unappreciative or even unaware of the good things his corporation has tried to do over the years. East Dallas has clearly supported his company's store for a long time and is undeserving of such thinly veiled criticism.

Speaking now for myself, it is specifically because of their reputation for progressive design and thinking that I expected a different approach from them. Mr. Simons comments make no mention of the fact that they brought to the neighborhood a preliminary design that was at odds with the clear, documented urban design standards that were developed by members of the neighborhood and contained within PD 281. They brought to our neighborhood instead a developed design that could not be built within the existing zoning but were not looking for ways to work through this problem, only to get it approved. They seem to have learned absolutely nothing from the Emerald Isle project, which only a few short months ago did precisely the same thing and went down hard at the hands of adjacent neighborhoods.

It appears that little has changed beyond the plan. Pretty emotional stuff for a "business decision"


Mr. Alston, your thoughtful comments are appreciated!


It's a sad and embarrassing day for Lakewood. But I'm sure if we put enough effort into it, we can chase them away completely. Other blogs are laughing at us,-see Frontburner.


If the benchmark for quality writing were Frontburner I'd be plenty happy to be on the opposite end of that scale.

R. Stewart

This solely addresses the question whether or not Whole Foods decided to renovate based on financial reasons or community pressure/input/etc.:

The collective action of the Whole Foods Executives interpreted in a rational economic framework speaks louder than their recent words. I support their decision to renovate even though I think our community would benefit two fold from a new store. I do believe Whole Foods decision was fundamentally influenced by the actions (or inaction) of our community whether we (or they) want to admit it or not. So, we all screwed up: those who knew better but chose to sit on the sidelines (me) and those whose clumsy steps created a dust storm of uncertainty for Whole Foods ultimately clouding their decision and straying from the best course of action. Whole Foods was doing our community a favor and was willing to take the costlier approach and endure a lengthy process to both provide the maximum economic and social good. Obviously they are not operating within that singular motivation, and as a growth-oriented company they knew first that it is in their own long term interest to efficiently grow their company through establishing consistent product distribution and service delivery systems executed through a consistent, controlled built environment represented best by their new store platforms.

It would be difficult to argue against the contention that Whole Foods is currently one of the most respected companies on Wall Street and Main Street. As such, you could assume the company probably is not lacking in industry best talent and executive leadership. If the previous statements were only partially accurate, it makes it utterly difficult to comprehend the current standing wisdom that after having traversed for months through the challenges of this project, Whole Foods now only discovers that the new building they planned was determined to be more expensive and take longer to complete compared to the alternative. The decision, in reality, and as the Whole Foods Executives know, is more complex than the conventional wisdom upon which such misleading rationality is peddled. The ‘useful idiots’ embedded in our community were anticipated by Whole Foods, who became the beneficiaries of this flawed and overly simplified conventional wisdom which supported their graceful change in strategy.

Economics requires a basic assumption that entities act rationally. As such, a risk-reward based assessment is much more useful in predicting or determining a course of action that such an entity may choose when operating in under market conditions. In that regard, assuming Whole Foods would have only rationally concluded not to build an entirely new ground-up store in Lakewood, would have determined this only under circumstances when the calculable downside-risk associated with engaging the ‘neighborhood’ (realistically, especially if they preferred to build a new building, this could only have been decided within the past few weeks during the community and municipal meetings) would outweigh the calculable operational/functional/brand continuity benefits that a new store affords.

Capital investment decisions such as land and building costs for high-margin growth-oriented retailers are not made in a vacuum or solely determined on the amount of the initial investment; in fact, because of the relative scale of the investment, arguably it isn’t even the primary determining input in the decision to build new or renovate. This is evident if you study the exorbitant land costs retailers have been willingly to incur in the short-term, such as a retail bank branches like Wachovia and Chase and even more so during the last decade with Walgreens and CVS. Publicly-traded companies need to establish durable income streams over the long term which usually must be built on a foundation of capital investments made over the life of the company usually when cash is most abundant (during its growth stage). Whole Foods knew the costs of a new building to a degree sufficient for a sophisticated pro forma and cash flow model. The building was based on programmatic plans backed with actual historical cost data from previous projects. Headquarters are in Austin and therefore they are no doubt aware of the difficulties with gaining municipal approvals for large retail projects in urban districts. This reasoning supports the fact that Whole Foods’ original decision to build new was their preference because over the long term it provided superior returns for the company and their shareholders. Therefore, the only thing that would change their path could have only been the uncertainty caused by the actions of our community.

To summarize and repeat my thesis, the collective action of the Whole Foods Executives interpreted in a rational economic framework speaks louder than their recent words. I support their decision to renovate even though I think our community would benefit two fold from a new store. I do believe Whole Foods decision was fundamentally influenced by the actions (or inaction) of our community whether we (or they) want to admit it or not.

Judy Howard

I grew up on Coronado behind the Lakewood Country Club. I now live within walking distance of the former Lakewood Minyard's store.

While shopping last week at Whole Foods on Greenville, a female patron revealed to me that WF planned to put the Minyard's sight back on the market and wait for the Albertson's on Abrams and Mockingbird to become available as their new sight. Any truth to this?

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