12:11 PM PST, November 8, 2012
Whole Foods Market is moving its regional headquarters to an eight-story building in Glendale that has sat vacant since it was constructed in 2009, officials announced this week.
With its regional headquarters currently in Sherman Oaks, Whole Foods has almost 50 stores in its western region, including Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii.
During a Glendale City Council meeting on Tuesday, city officials outlined the move and what it means to the city, which has been working to reduce its Class A office vacancy rate of about 22%.
Whole Foods will lease the top two floors — or about 45,000 square feet — in the sleek building at 207 Goode Ave. along the Ventura (134) Freeway and just off Brand Boulevard. The building has about 189,000 total square feet of rental space, according to city officials.
More than 140 Whole Foods employees will be making the move.
“It’s a huge pick-up for us,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa.
Sharon Mann Garrett, the city’s senior economic development coordinator, said the company’s brand means a lot for Glendale.
“Not only is it a big tenant, it’s also a big name” she said.
Whole Foods officials looked at several locations, but the site in Glendale “felt right,” said Hilary Maler, a spokeswoman for the company.
“What the space had to offer and the location is what attracted us,” she said, adding that the fact that Whole Foods has a store in Glendale factored into the decision.
It’s unclear yet if Whole Foods will have its name on the building, which commands a prominent location in front of daily commuters through downtown Glendale.
“That’s the plan is to try to leverage that as much as we can,” Ochoa said. “I think that right now they’re still costing everything.”
Mayor Frank Quintero pointed out that Whole Foods may introduce new products and concepts in Glendale since the city will now be its regional headquarters.
Companies with strong local ties have used Glendale as a launching point for new ideas in the past, Ochoa said, citing the Walt Disney Co.’s first Disney Baby store in the Americana at Brand.
Mann Garrett said when company officials are looking to move to the area, they often look at the entire tri-city region, which includes Burbank and Pasadena.
In that group, she said, Glendale has lower leases and its higher vacancy rate allows for more flexibility in size and location.
Other companies and schools are eyeing Glendale, Mann Garrett said, including a title company, a liberal arts university, a national insurance firm, a regional pharmaceuticals company and a graduate school that is looking for a satellite campus
Los Angeles-based developer MPG Office Trust sold rights to the long-vacant 207 Goode building back to the bank at a huge discount in October 2010, about a year after it was constructed.
MPG got $22.8 million in the transaction, more than $21 million of which was used to partially cover the $38.2 million construction loan on the property, according to company documents.
The lender, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria of Spain, walked away from the deal without receiving the remaining $16.6 million.
The building was then purchased for an undisclosed amount by Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co.
-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News
Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam