Councilors: Market gives parking, eatery details

March 18, 2011
By

John Ruch and Rebeca Oliveira

HYDE SQ.—The incoming Whole Foods Market will seek up to 40 off-site parking spaces and feature a 20-seat dining area, company officials reportedly told Boston city councilors in a private City Hall meeting on March 1.

The meeting was arranged by At-Large Councilor Felix Arroyo, a JP resident, and local Councilor Matt O’Malley, who both recently revealed the conversation.

Whole Foods is moving into the former Hi-Lo Foods at 415 Centre St. amid neighborhood controversy. But details of the market’s plan have been slim. Whole Foods did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

Whole Foods also “seemed amenable” to selling Latino groceries wholesale to local bodegas at cost, O’Malley said at a March 7 open forum at the Connolly Branch Library, adding that he proposed the idea.

But Whole Foods also intends to keep its parking lot customers-only, Arroyo said in a Gazette interview. That would reverse a Hi-Lo deal that allowed local residents and patrons of other businesses to park there.

The market’s quest for 40 “overflow” parking spaces is primarily for employees, according to Arroyo. It remains unclear where that much private parking could be found in Hyde Square, and Arroyo said he wants Whole Foods to press employees to use public transit.
The dining area would be for some type of in-store food service, Arroyo added.

Whole Foods officials also repeated their offer to carry Latino cultural groceries that “met their specification of quality,” which includes being natural and organic, Arroyo said.

It is unclear whether that would cover Arroyo’s last purchase at Hi-Lo: a box of Puerto Rican candy for each fellow city councilor in celebration of Three Kings Day.

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