MIAMI-On the heels of Publix’s decision to locate a new store at18Biscayne in downtown Miami, Whole Foods Market has unveiled plansto open an organic grocery store to serve the area. Whole FoodsMarket will open a new store as part of the Metropolitan Miamicomplex at the intersection of SE 3rd Avenue and SE 2nd St.

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Tim Weller, vice president for MDM Development, the developerbehind The Met, says Whole Foods’ decision to open its first-everdowntown Miami store “speaks volumes to the quality of retailerthat Metropolitan Miami will attract.” Downtown Miami residentswill have to wait, however, until late 2013 for the doors toopen.

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This isn’t the first time Whole Foods Market has made a decisionfor downtown Miami. Lyle Stern, a broker at the Miami Beach-basedKoniver Stern Group, the exclusive retail leasing representative ofMetropolitan Miami, tells GlobeSt.com that Whole Foods first inkeda deal at the Met in 2004—but backed out when the economyshifted.

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“Once the clouds cleared and the economic outlook improved—andonce Whole Foods was able to verify that downtown Miami hadabsorbed a tremendous number of residential units—the grocerdecided to move forward with the store,” says Stern, who alsorepresents Whole Foods. “This is a huge endorsement of thepopulation base in the downtown Miami and Brickell Corridor.”

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The Met 3 location within the Metropolitan Miami complex will beWhole Foods Market’s 12th store in South Florida. Whole Foods has10 other locations in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami Dade counties,and one more planned for Pembroke Pines in early 2012.

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“Whole Foods always thought the Met was the best place to be.This location is the epicenter of the entire market that WholeFoods wants to serve, from Key Biscayne through the mid-50s and 60son Biscayne,” Stern says. “This site offers some of the greatestdensity of office space in that entire market.”

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According to the Miami Downtown Development Authority’sResidential & Demographic Study, the number of Downtownresidents has jumped by 81% in the past decade, growing from 39,000people in 2000 to roughly 70,000 people now living in the districttoday. Recent reports also indicate that another 10,000 areprojected to move to the neighborhood in the next three years.

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“The quality of retail options like Whole Foods are makingDowntown Miami an increasingly attractive destination,” AlyceRobertson, executive director of the Miami DDA, tells GlobeSt.com.“Close to 200 new restaurants and retail businesses have opened indowntown in the past five years alone. We anticipate an even biggersurge in popularity as more hotels, stores, and entertainmentoptions come to the neighborhood to capitalize on the growingresidential population.”

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