Whole Foods has signed a lease with the Howard Hughes Co. to open a store at the former Rouse Company Headquarters in Downtown Columbia.
Store officials note the Columbia market will offer "the highest quality natural and organic products." The Whole Foods Market will occupy 45,000 square feet of the 151,000 square foot building on the level adjacent to the parking lot on Little Patuxent Parkway, according to a press release.
"Opening in Columbia is an excellent opportunity for us to plant solid roots, encourage economic growth, job creation and community engagement," wrote Scott Allshouse, Mid-Atlantic region president for Whole Foods.
The announcement of the entrance of Whole Foods into the Columbia market, first reported on the food blog Howchow, comes about one month of store space on the 8800 block of McGaw Road.
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After restoration and renovation efforts are completed on the building, Whole Foods will likely open in late summer or early fall of 2014, according to a press release. The Howard Hughes Co. will undertake the restoration, which will include "creating a spectacular double height space for the store by removing the floor above the main level in the building," according to a release.
"Along with the recently approved plans for the new , Whole Foods coming to the Rouse Building serves as a catalyst for creating the vibrant, walkable more urban setting envisioned for Downtown Columbia," said John DeWolf, senior vice president of the Howard Hughes Co., according to a release.
The building opened in 1974 as the headquarters of the Rouse Company, which was operated by Columbia founder James W. Rouse. The building was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Both parties said in the release they "intend to honor and enhance the unique architecture of the iconic building."
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, DeWolf, and Jill McCarthy of Whole Foods will make a formal announcement about Whole Foods coming to Columbia on Thursday at 11 a.m. in front of the former Rouse Building in Downtown Columbia.