Hundreds gathered in the cavernous shell of the historic Hahne’s building on Broad Street Thursday for the official announcement that upscale grocer Whole Foods will be building a store at the site.
“When I mentioned my dream, that I wanted a Whole Foods to come to Newark, even some people on my development team thought it was impossible,” said Mayor Cory Booker.
The store, expected to be completed in 2016, represents yet another component of a sweeping redevelopment underway in downtown Newark. Across the street from the 100-year-old building -- which had been largely unused for decades -- Military Park is being renovated. Just south of the store on Broad Street, Prudential, the financial services company, is building a new skyscraper. Also downtown, city officials recently cut the ribbon on “Teachers Village,” a mixed residential-retail development.
“We stand here in a building that was a symbol of decay, a symbol of what Newark was,” Booker also said, adding, “but now, it is a symbol of what Newark will be.”
The 400,000-square-foot store will feature an underground parking area. Above the grocery store will be several units of affordable-rate housing, said Deputy Mayor Adam Zipkin, who was credited by many speakers Thursday with spearheading the project, which was about seven years in the making.
The building will receive a 30-year tax abatement, Zipkin also said.
Christina Minardi, Whole Foods regional vice president, said the store will provide 150 jobs. She also said that about that many Newarkers now work at the chain’s suburban locations in West Orange, Millburn and Montclair, and that many of them have asked about getting jobs at the Newark store.
Minardi also said the store’s prices will be tailored for Newark, where residents generally are far less affluent than people in other New Jersey towns Whole Foods calls home.“Whole Foods Market will build a store that will fit in the community,” Minardi said.