The city of University Place wants all the skeptics and doubters to know that Whole Foods is indeed coming to the Town Center development at the corner of Bridgeport Way West and 35th Street West.
"Whole Foods is under lease, the financing is complete," city attorney Steve Victor said at Monday night's City Council meeting. "We issued the first permit Friday."
City Manager Steve Sugg made the announcement as part of his regular update to the council, putting to rest any rumors that the high-end, certified organic grocer would back out of its deal with the city and locate elsewhere in Pierce County.
"That should dispel all the rumors out there that Whole Foods was going to go elsewhere," Sugg said after announcing the city had closed on the real estate deal with Verus Partners, LLC -- a deal that was first made public in early November.
One rumor suggested the company would come to UP, but would occupy the recently vacated Albertsons space.
"This is a huge milestone of fulfilling the council’s goals for economic development," Sugg said Monday.
Whole Foods has planned a public groundbreaking ceremony forMarch 26 at 2 p.m. It anticipates opening the store by March 2015.
Victor said he heard bets were being made in other cities as to whether the deal was legitimate.
"I understand there has been some skepticism on the part of some people here, but also some of the other cities," Victor said.
Three pieces of heavy machinery were on the lot Monday evening, and Sugg said they were moving dirt earlier in the day.
City Council members commented Monday about the significance of Whole Foods choosing University Place as its first location in Pierce County.
"We finally have our anchor tenant that will hopefully start our domino effect," said Mayor Denise McCluskey about the city's larger Town Center vision.
The $10 million Whole Foods project will be built north of the library and the recently opened Clearview 100 Apartments, which sit above retail space including recently opened Jersey Mike's Subs. No public money would be used to build the store.
The store is projected to be 38,000 square feet and bring 100 to 120 jobs. It will offer a combination of surface and underground parking and will be one of the first buildings people see when they approach Town Center driving south on Bridgeport.
Verus Partners purchased the 106,234 square-foot lot from the city for the Whole Foods location. In November Victor estimated the city would receive close to $480,000 in the transaction.