The following is a statement from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council explaining their vote opposing the new Whole Foods store in Hyde Square:
After agreeing to amend wording – “we are convinced” to “we are concerned” and “after listening to arguments on all sides” to “based on what we now know” – and agreeing to remove the words newly vacant” before “property at 415 Centre Street,” the neighborhood council passed the release of the following statement on Whole Foods’ plans:
As a Council, we have committed ourselves to preserving affordable housing through our residential use policies, and have consistently expressed concern in our zoning and public licensing decisions to preserve the rich character of Jamaica Plain. We therefore commit ourselves to working with the established business community, community organizations and public officials to explore alternative uses of the property at 415 Centre Street. Based on what we know now, we are concerned that Whole Foods is not a good fit for Hyde Square. We hope that it will reconsider its decision to move into the neighborhood, and we hope that our community can work together to find an alternative to Whole Foods that will strengthen Jamaica Plain’s culture of diversity, locally owned businesses, and welcome to people of all economic status.
THE BOSTON GLOBE reported an excellent summary of the council’s meeting and decision, which passed by only one vote.
The Globe article did get a comment from Massachusetts State Representative Jeffrey Sánchez but did not get a comment from Whole Foods.
The move comes less than three weeks before the company will gain access to a large Centre Street commercial space that had been occupied by Latino-specialty grocer Hi-Lo Foods for over four decades. Whole Foods officials were not immediately available to comment Wednesday morning.
“[The Whole Foods store] is an as-of-right move,” said Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez by phone Wednesday morning. “I’m curious to see the council’s next steps. Where do they go from here? … I’ve never heard or seen the neighborhood council take a stand against a business coming in without [the council] having an application before it.”
He said that though he does not believe potential businesses are discouraged to move into JP at this point, “there has to be a sense within all of us that we keep an eye on the business district, it’s the backbone of the community .. There are opportunities for business here and we are a welcoming community despite this.