Whole Foods says it still plans on opening South Lake Tahoe location
Despite rumors on local social media pages, Whole Foods is not backing out of plans to open a location in South Lake Tahoe.
Construction delays at the Bijou Marketplace — the site of the former Knights Inn off U.S. 50 between Ski Run Boulevard and Herbert Avenue — have fueled speculation that the Whole Foods location is no more. A thread on a local Facebook page was filled with comments alleging the grocery chain had backed out of its lease.
That is not true.
A Whole Foods Market spokesperson declined to answer a series of questions by the Tribune, but did confirm that the company has not canceled its plans to open a store in South Lake Tahoe.
Similarly, documents posted on the building state that it is still being leased by Whole Foods.
The spokesperson declined to provide a targeted opening date for the store.
“We don’t have any additional information to share at the moment, but we’ll be in touch as soon as opening details are available.”
City officials tell the Tribune that Whole Foods is tentatively hoping to open in late summer or early fall.
Whole Foods has signed a lease through May 2039, the Tribune previously reported.
Initially the developer, Halferty Development Co., and city officials hoped to complete construction by now.
But several issues complicated that process, according to information communicated to the city.
Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 caused part of the delay, as did a redesign of the shelving pattern for products in the store, South Lake Tahoe Director of Development Service Kevin Fabino told the Tribune.
The redesign could be due to Whole Foods reported move to scrap its smaller, more affordable 365 stores. Originally, Whole Foods planned to open a 365 store in South Lake Tahoe. Earlier this year, Yahoo News broke news that the chain was scrapping the 365 stores.
The spokesperson declined to clarify if the South Lake Tahoe location will be a Whole Foods Market, but the Yahoo story said Whole Foods would not open any new 365 stores.
According to information provided by the city, Whole Foods currently is going through the process of selecting product, Fabino said.
“All of the exterior work has been pretty much completed and the interior work continues to proceed,” he said. “The refrigeration system is in, check-out stands have been constructed and many of the ceiling fixtures have been installed.”
Elsewhere in the Bijou Marketplace, Chase Bank and Panda Express have already opened.
A Five Guys also is planned for the marketplace. The company has pulled a building permit for tenant improvement, which will be completed by Falcon Construction.
The city anticipates construction will start immediately, although Five Guys has not provided a potential opening date yet, Fabino said.
A planned Hub Coffee has withdrawn its application.
Additional spaces are available to lease.
The city of South Lake Tahoe purchased the site from former Knights Inn owner Pradip Patel for $5.9 million in early 2017 with the goal of creating a project that would be economically and environmentally beneficial.
The city then sold the property to Halferty for $2 million.
Along with the development, the overall project aims to improve the watershed by daylighting the creek, creating stormwater treatment basins, and restoring a portion of the 850-acre watershed that extends up to Heavenly Mountain Resort and down through Ski Run Marina, the Tribune previously reported.