City officials last week held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the early construction stages of the new College Marketplace project, set to be built in north Fayetteville.
The 57,000-square-foot shopping center will include a Whole Foods Market grocery store and several other shops and restaurants.
Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant said the project has created a big buzz around Fayetteville. Tennant said as he was getting out of his car to attend the ceremony, a passing driver yelled, “We love Whole Foods!”
“I’ve been to a lot of groundbreakings, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Tennant. “It’s obvious how important (Whole Foods) is to this city.”
Earlier this year, Tennant convinced aldermen to spend $150,000 for a traffic signal that would be required at College Avenue and Masonic Drive if the shopping center was built. Tennant said that move – along with the new flyover bridge, helped lure Whole Foods to Fayetteville over other cities in the region.
He said the money spent on those projects would have a “massive” return on investment.
Based on Whole Foods’ average sales per square foot, Tennant estimated the store could generate between $800,000 and $1.3 million in sales tax revenue each year. He said Whole Foods could bring as many as 140 jobs to town as well.
“There won’t just an economic return,” he said, “but also a cultural return and a nutritional return.”
Whole Foods is known best for its health-driven, locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and breads. The Austin Texas-based grocer has been a leader among traditional chains in offering organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO options.
Laura Zappi, Whole Foods’ executive marketing coordinator for the southwest region, said the Fayetteville store is no exception.
“We’ve been named America’s healthiest grocery store, so we hope to bring some healthier options here to Fayetteville,” said Zappi. “We know it’s already a very healthy community that’s concerned about healthier eating options, and we hope to really bring a great addition to that.”
Officials with Georgia-based developer S.J. Collins Enterprises said the new shopping center is expected to open in fall 2015.