Whole Foods Market will finally come to town, once its new home gets a major face-lift.
On Tuesday night, the Planning Commission approved Shapell Industries' plan—subject to conditions—to make improvements to its Aliso Village shopping center, which will house a new Whole Foods Market. The center—which formerly housed Tall Mouse—is on the southwest side of the La Paz Road and Aliso Creek Road intersection. The improvements would need to be completed before the store's anticipated opening at the end of the year.
Among the improvements planned for the more than 126,000-square-foot shopping center:
- A 1,150-square-foot mezzanine.
- An 805-square-foot covered outdoor seating area.
- A minor-use permit that will allow the outdoor display of fresh produce, flowers and other merchandise.
- A net increase of two parking stalls in the center's parking lot.
Shapell Properties will also completely remodel the storefront to include a new arching-tower element—replacing the existing two smaller tower features; new building recesses and projections; and a new earth-toned color scheme.
According to the Planning Commission documents, the center, which has a Mediterranean-Spanish architectural style, was built about 30 years ago. Whole Foods Market is planning a contemporary design to create more visual interest. It is also planning to use reclaimed-wood elements and stacked-stone facade treatments.
Revitalization of the Center
"This investment in the community is going to have a rippling effect," said Community Development Director Dan Fox. "The property owner is looking at this as an opportunity to revitalize the center both from a physical design standpoint and as an opportunity to attract new tenants."
Conditions for Approval
The Planning Commission's requirements for construction include:
- A redesign of the rest of the contiguous center that matches the style of the new market. Plans must be submitted within 12 months and completed within 36 months.
- An analysis to determine whether equipment that will be installed on the roof to accommodate the new market will be visible from the surrounding area. If it is visible, it will be replaced by smaller units, relocated or shielded from sight in some other way.
- Outdoor displays that will be no more than 20 feet and display only fresh local produce, floral arrangements and/or other decorative seasonal merchandise.
- Size and design of new signs that are consistent with the Aliso Village sign program.
- Installation of bollards—short posts—around the seating area for pedestrian and speed bumps at the entrance for pedestrian safety.
Fox said that the proposed stipulations are standard and that the city typically has similar requirements for all businesses that are planning new construction or refurbishing.
When Will the Market Open?
Fox said the opening of the market depends on the start of construction.
"As far as construction goes, they haven't given us any specific start date, but, hopefully, they will start in the next one or two months," he said. "They have talked about wanting to have this open by the end of the year, so if they want to accomplish this, they are going to have to start pretty soon."
Whole Foods could not be reached for comment.