Construction has stopped on the Whole Foods Market planned for Seattle's Interbay neighborhood, and the store's would-be landlord is suing the upscale grocery for tens of millions of dollars in damages.
Construction has stopped on the Whole Foods Market planned for Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood, and the store’s would-be landlord is suing the upscale grocery for tens of millions of dollars in damages.
Whole Foods contractors stopped work on the anchor store at Interbay Urban Center in July, according to a lawsuit filed last week in King County Superior Court by the project’s owner, Seattle developer TRF Pacific.
The Austin, Texas-based grocery chain said in August it would go ahead with plans for new stores at Interbay and West Seattle, despite scaling back new-store openings after a third-quarter profit drop.
A spokeswoman for Whole Foods declined to comment on Wednesday, and its Web site still lists the stores as “in development.” They would be the Seattle area’s fifth and sixth Whole Foods stores; the company has not publicly disclosed projected opening dates.
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In a statement, TRF said, “This is the first time in our company’s history that we’ve had to file a lawsuit against an anchor tenant for breach of lease.”
When Whole Foods halted construction of the Interbay store, it told TRF that its sales projections required shrinking the store from 60,000 square feet to about 40,000 square feet, according to the lawsuit. The chain also said cash-flow problems would delay its opening from December 2008 to October or November 2009, the suit says.
In September, a week before TRF was scheduled to turn over the building shell to Whole Foods, the chain told the developer it was terminating its lease due to TRF’s failure to satisfy unspecified conditions in their agreements by April 30, according to the lawsuit.
In a letter excerpted in the suit, TRF told Whole Foods the halt could mean the possible loss of rents from other tenants, loss of financing or added financing costs and more construction costs. The suit claims Whole Foods’ shutdown also interfered with the work of the contractor working on the rest of the shopping center.
TRF accuses Whole Foods of breach of contract and asks for damages totaling $67.9 million, including $10.4 million to reflect the decline in value of the shopping center without the Whole Foods lease, nearly $20 million for development and construction costs, and $37.1 million in future rents.
TRF’s statement said the Interbay project is its third with Whole Foods. “We’re hopeful that Whole Foods will reconsider its decision and honor the commitments it has made.”
Whole Foods has not responded to the lawsuit.
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or email@example.com