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PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL-As scheduled, the 42,000-sf Whole Foods Market at Downtown at the Gardens held its grand opening the morning after Hurricane Wilma struck. Whole Foods is the first tenant in the 338,100-sf retail component of the 60-acre mixed-use development under way by locally based Menin Development Cos. Inc.

The site did sustain some damage, so, in order to open on time, Menin staff worked round the clock on repair and clean up, which included clearing debris, setting signs upright, repairing landscaping, creating safety barricades and sweeping the parking lot. More than 1,000 customers lined up for the 10 a.m. opening, according to Sandy Lewis, general manager of the project.

The planned Nov. 10 grand opening of the entire center, however, will be delayed, Lewis reports. “Although it’s still unclear what types of difficulties and delays we may incur due to shortages of labor, gasoline and extended lead times in securing materials, we are optimistic we will be able to start opening more of our tenants well in time for the Christmas shopping season,” he says.

Among the other tenants are a 68,000-sf, 16-screen Cobb Theater; many restaurants new to the area, including the Cheesecake Factory, Rosa Mexicano, Max’s Grille, the Grape and Johnny Rockets; and such specialty retailers as Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, Urban Outfitters, Z Gallerie, Sur La Table and Storehouse.

Landmark at the Gardens, a 166-unit residential condominium, is currently under construction. Construction of Gardens Pointe, which will include 241 condo units and townhouses, is set to begin in spring 2006.

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