Whole Foods Market has agreed to anchor a large strip shopping center at the northwest corner of Barrett and Cobb parkways. The massive mixed-use project would include 450,000 square feet of retail space and 30 townhomes on the western side of the property, said Bob Fox, economic development director for Kennesaw. The townhomes would be purchased, not rented, he said.
Whole Foods Market announced Thursday it will lease 45,000 square feet of the retail space to open a natural and organic foods grocery store.
The new Whole Foods store will employ between 175 and 220 people and is scheduled to open in 2016.
The existing site, which is southeast of the city in unincorporated Cobb, is across from a retail shopping plaza and the Willow Branch town home development.
“Our goal is to target properties that are prime for development,” Mayor Mark Mathews said.
Mathews said neither the City Council nor the Kennesaw Development Authority have any plans to offer tax abatements or other monetary incentives to the developer or the businesses leasing space in the development.
If any requests are made, including to the KDA, Mathews said he and the City Council would have to approve the deals.
Plans were submitted by the developer of the site and reviewed by the Planning Commission on Feb. 5.
The City Council will play host to a public hearing on the possible annexation at 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall in
Developer designs new space
Mathews said Atlanta-based Fuqua Development has the site under contract and knows the market through demographic studies, so the developer is deciding what mix of stores would work best.
Councilwoman Cris Welsh, who has lived in Kennesaw for 24 years, graduated in 1995 from Kennesaw State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and worked briefly for a commercial developer.
Welsh said the entire annexation has been a project of the city’s economic development department for four years.
The plan is to close the Castle Lake Mobile Home Park, that currently sits on the site and serves as home to dozens of families, many of them Hispanic immigrants.
“There are a lot of moving parts,” Welsh said. “My biggest concern was that we are able to relocate those families.”
Whether the area is annexed by the city or not, Welsh said the property will be developed.
The city’s pitch in favor of annexation, she said, is that the retailers would get more personalized attention from the Kennesaw Police Department and other city services, as opposed to remaining in the county.
Community anxious for healthy national chain
The new commercial space can be easily accessed by residents of west Cobb and north Cobb, and Mathews said Fuqua plans to add a big-box sporting goods store and restaurants to complement Whole Foods.
Whole Foods Market, headquartered in Austin, Texas, has eight locations in metro Atlanta, with stores in Savannah and Augusta opening later this year.
“We’re always looking for new locations around the Atlanta metro area,” said Jeremiah Ryan, Whole Foods Market South region executive coordinator of operations. “We’re excited that we’ve found a great location for the Kennesaw community, and we look forward to providing more people with good, healthy food options.”
Mathews said Whole Foods has already sponsored city events such as Pigs and Peaches, the Big Shanty Festival and area road races.
“They are very interested in setting up shop and being involved,” Mathews said. “They are really connected to the communities where their stores are.”
According to the company’s website, Whole Foods stores offer foods that are free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and preservatives.
In October 2001, Whole Foods Market acquired the three Harry’s Farmers Market megastores in Cobb County.
“Whole Foods is something this community has been crying out for,” Welsh said.
Want to go?
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Monday evening
WHERE: Council chambers at City Hall
WHY: To review plans for a mixed-use development with 450,000 square feet of retail space, which could result in annexation of the county property into city limits