Whole Foods To Locate in Downtown Columbia

Find out when the store is expected to open.

Whole Foods has signed a lease with Howard Hughes 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.

What do you think about Whole Foods coming to downtown Columbia? Tell us in comments.

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. Howard Hughes 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 Howard Hughes, 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.

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Mary Catherine Cochran July 26, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Lower parking lot off of LPP or upper parking lot off of LPP?
Andrew Metcalf (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Looks like they're taking both the lower and upper, based on the attached PDF.
Brenda July 26, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Hooray!!!! I drive to Annapolis now to shop at WF. Wish it was sooner...
Judi Broida July 26, 2012 at 02:25 AM
I am delighted! I now travel 30-40 minutes to go to Whole Foods. In talking with employees at Wegmans about increasing their organic produce, they indicated that they could not compete with Whole Foods - either in quality or quantity of organic produce. I am counting the days till Whole Foods comes.
Colleen Darling July 26, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Awesome. I hope hop e they have the cooking classes for kids at this one also.
Kira Lis July 26, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Columbia Town Center really needs a grocery store. There is a growing population there and I don't know where they do their grocery shopping. Columbia is large enough to support Whole Foods, Wegmans, Giant, Trader Joes, etc.
Norman La Cholter July 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM
"Howard Hughes 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." I wonder how "removing the floor above the main level in the building," will "honor and enhance" Frank Gehry's original design. Let's hope the apprehension is misplaced, or try to imagine how the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Balbao might be "enhanced."
Merette J. Bassler July 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Me, too. Merjo
Christine July 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Oh good! Town Center could really use a grocery store, and WF would definitely fit well into their plan for revitalizing downtown. Plus, that building is just way too cool to let sit. :)
Darlene Mik July 26, 2012 at 01:27 PM
It's about time that conglomerate called Giant who has held us hostage for decades with their outrageous prices and not so great quality finally has some real competition. I do feel bad for the little guys like David's & Roots, though. Hope they'll be able to stay in business.
Tricia M July 26, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Excited for Whole Foods in Columbia!! I am concerned for David's market and my hope is that they will continue to flourish even with the addition of Whole Foods. This would be a definite plus for our area. Tricia
Dawn July 26, 2012 at 02:07 PM
I think its sad that the best we can put on our lakefront is a supermarket and good luck trying to get there during the holiday shopping and Merriweather concerts.
Eric S. July 26, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Whole Foods is a scam. I mean, I live across the street from one and still shop there occasionally, but you really have to watch what you're getting. It's NOT all organic, locally sourced, etc. and is often confusingly labelled. That said, nice to see options, as long as they don't put the MOM's in Jessup out of business (since Wegmans will do just fine I'm sure).
Mari July 26, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Fortunately, they also don't compete with the snooty attitude of Whole Foods employees (or at least the attitude the people at the Mount Washington store had in the early 2000's). I've never had a problem with the quality of the Wegmans' organic items, except for a couple tomatoes.
John Milton Wesley July 26, 2012 at 05:49 PM
There goes the neighborhood! (as we know it). For "Columbians" who have lived here since the early days the arrival of a Whole Foods in the former Rouse Company headquarters building is a radical departure from the use of this iconic space so embedded in our psyche. For this building to become a "general store" is comparable to Symphony Woods becoming a Drive-in Theater. It would save some drive time, but is it truly the maximum use of this space and footprint?; and thats before you consider the fact that unless Whole Foods includes in its interior design photos, a small permanent exhibit of James Rouse memorabilia, or something to atleast remind visitors of the hallowed ground they are standing in and on. I dread the loss of the historical significance of the building and location to current and future Columbians. First we learned the company did not own the building but was leasing it. Then we learned the company was being sold to General Growth Porperties. Then we learned the company was in bankruptcy. The we learned the company was being sold to the Howard Hughes Corporation. Now we learn the building is becoming a grocery store. For "old timers" like me who have really read Joshua Olsen's "A biography of James Rouse" , such cumulative blows to Rouse's "dream" are disorienting.
Roux's Pal July 26, 2012 at 09:09 PM
This is wonderful - a great way to "repurpose" the existing, beautiful structure. BUT...What about the other "things" that were in the re-development of downtown? A "transportation center" was to go in BEFORE or AS development was happening to stop the unpleasant history of this county of building and afterward thinking about how to get people around. Transportation is a fundamental part of infrastructure - once again it's being overlooked.
KG July 27, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Maybe MOM's, David's or Roots can check out Catonsville as a location. We would love some organic food over here and all we have is the big grocery chains and we are getting an Aldi (no different). Currently many in the area drive to Columbia but would rather not.
Kathryn Knight July 27, 2012 at 03:42 AM
John Milton Wesley - everything changes and evolves. That's the way of the world. Before there was "Columbia" this was farmland, it was sad to see that change, but it had to come. And, surely Columbia has to change and evolve or this will increasingly be a ghost down w/ fewer and fewer residents and homeowners
Sandra Conway July 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Thank Heaven!!! This made my day!!! Super excited, but i agree, I wish it was sooner.
Elle July 31, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I don't mind Whole Foods coming to the area but the location is a terrible idea! Right at the lakefront? really? its going to ruin that area. Who's stupid idea was this?
Elle July 31, 2012 at 01:54 AM
You couldn't have said it any better.
Elle July 31, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Change doesn't include a grocery store at the beautiful lakefront. What a ridiculous plan and I don't understand ANYONE thinking this is a good idea.
Elle July 31, 2012 at 01:58 AM
I realize the area needs a grocery store. Whats wrong with the location where Giant was? Why do they need to ruin our lakefront? It will also impact the 4th of July activities. Don't forget, grocery stores don't close on this holiday.
STEPHANIE August 04, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Whoo hoo...they not only listened But heard. I proposed this to them and why a while ago But for Wilde Lake village centre they were too big for that space. They said they will look intto it for somewhere in Columbia. I told them my churches would shop frequent it for we advocate a vegan diet . I said columbians are health concious too. ;-) sibil
Elle August 04, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Still think its a terrible location. Its going to ruin the lakefront !
Michael moneymaker August 06, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I just hope that if or when whole food builds this store they use local contractors and local people Mike
LWLora August 13, 2012 at 01:55 AM
LWLora A grocery store will be the heart of Columbia?...and specially Frank Gehry's building? Why not relocating the central library and making the heart of Columbia for all to enjoy. Converting this magnificent landmark into a grocery store is an absolutely disgrace!
A.R. August 15, 2012 at 03:05 AM
I love Whole Foods. Been in DC. Love that one is coming to this area. BUT, I would have loved it more if Catonsville could have had it. I'm sure it would fit in either of the rt 40 shopping centers that are razing and remodeling.
Victoria October 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Wegmans' organic greens like chard and kale are always totally limp or wilted. So, yes, poor quality and not much variety. Can't wait for whole foods!
Martha Lynn Metzker January 22, 2013 at 01:19 PM
A few years ago I would have been thrilled to think that Wholefoods was coming to Columbia (although I too question the lakefront location) -- but I am now so disgusted with the political statements of the WF CEO (comparing Obamacare to fascism) that I will not be able to shop there. I'll stick with MOMs and Davids and the organic section of the bigger stores.


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