Friday, November 4, 2011

Howard County To Get First Whole Foods In Gehry-Designed Headquarters: TOTC Blog

Howard County may gets its first Whole Foods, reports the Tales of Two Cities blog, which posted this morning about negotiations to turn the former Rouse Company headquarters into a ritzy grocer.

Wordbones works in commercial real estate so I take his word that Whole Foods is in the final stages of negotiating to convert the first floor of the Frank-Gehry-designed building.  This is the current Howard Hughes building at 10271 Little Patuxent Parkway, right across from the mall in Town Center.

Go to Tales of Two Cities for that news (and if you're a journalist, credit him for getting this first).

Then come back here for some thoughts on the food.

I wouldn't be a food blogger if Howard County had had a Whole Foods in 2005.

A photo from Waymarking
When I was lured here by Mrs. HowChow, it was a challenge to find cool food because I couldn't find a single place -- either in real life or on the Web -- for all kinds of shopping.  I nosed around Roots and Mom's Organic Market.  I found a fish market, stumbled in Lily's Mexican Market, blundered into the old Sizar's.

The gradual finds lent themselves to a blog, and it has been great fun to explore the local food scene and write up little ideas.  That landscape will be dramatically altered if Columbia gets a Wegmans in 2012 and a Whole Foods soon after.

Honestly, we have been talking about the rumor for a few weeks now.  Long enough to get greedy.  "I hope this is a Rockville Whole Foods and not a Baltimore Whole Foods," said Mrs. HowChow last night.  The new Rockville store has way more space, way more cheese and prepared foods, a crazy bulk food section with unusual dried beans and multiple varieties of honey.

The Columbia spot has the opportunity to be an amazing experience.  Who else has a grocery store designed by a world-famous architect?  The plot has parking now.   They also have a lakeside location.  A Whole Foods is a mini-restaurant along with a grocery, so I could imagine people carrying food out to a view of the water.  I assume Howard Hughes loves the Whole Foods idea because it can make an entire neighborhood seem more attractive.

But we want our cake and our local butcher too.  I will love the option of Whole Foods, but still want the option of Laurel Meat Market's ground chuck and Boarman's housemade sausages.  Stay tuned for more news about the possible renovation -- and about all the delicious food that you'll get from the places that made this a nice food scene long before Wegmans and Whole Foods wanted to join us.

Google Maps can give you a birds eye view of the Rouse Company building so you can see is parking and the connections to the rest of the area.  Check out this Web site for more about Gehry's buildings in Columbia.  Or check out a Baltimore Magazine story about Gehry's Columbia.


P90 Noir said...

Very exciting news! Hopefully Howard Hughes can find a way to preserve/revitalize the event space on the second floor of the building. With Whole Foods on site, it could be a great location for special events.

Matt said...

Wow, when I moved here I wished for both! Now I can relax! Not to mention, these additions make the already popular supermarkets much easier to get through during peak times! I'll bet they also really start to appreciate the ppl that stick with them when the big guys arrive!

Susan said...

I almost fell out of my chair. A Whole Foods in the former Rouse building would be fantastic. I agree with having our cake and eating it too. While I can't wait for Wegman's and would love to have a Whole Foods, it makes me worry for my friends at David's - good people that have seen me through the adjustment from N.Va to the quirks of Columbia. Also, can you imagine what the original Columbians would say to the amount of traffic that a Whole Foods with generate. When they get wind, it'll be game on! Thanks for sharing.

Columbia20Something said...

I agree with Susan. I feel so torn because a Whole Foods has so much variety, but I really like David's as a local grocer. I wouldn't want business to be taken from them.

RHfoodie said...

There's room for all - more stores means more shoppers staying here in Columbia/HoCo & NOT heading to Annapolis (love the new Whole Foods in Parole), Baltimore or Montgomery. I'm thrilled that I'm going to be able to have choice where to shop & be local.

Marcia said...

I agree with Susan (although for me, it's Roots), and HowChow. But I think there is room for all of these plus Wegman's and Whole Foods in Columbia. They are all just different enough.

Think of the amazing meals we'll be making here soon!

perrik said...

Don't worry, the local grocers will regain some of their customers once people get tired of fighting for parking spaces at the Whole Foods. That parking lot isn't nearly big enough. It's going to be really bad on Saturday afternoons and sheer hell right after work.

Then again, the Trader Joe's lot isn't exactly a joy and I still shop there. No pain, no gain (and no triple ginger cookies).

Anonymous said...

Thrilled that there will be more options here. Just moved here from NoVa. Have frequented the local grocers but one in particular has always displayed an attitude and although they have some unique items I won't be returning there. Glad I won't have to drive to another county anymore.

Long time resident said...

Let' not forget about our small local markets. They really need our support to stay afloat during these tough times. The personal service and quality products are what I enjoy most about shopping the small mom & pop markets. They remember you and always greet you with a smile. A few of my favorites are Frank's Seafood,you won't get fresher seafood anywhere else. Laurel Meat Market, fresh cut meats & Frank's Produce a working farm. Let's help them out.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY! I've been here ten years and have been shopping at Whole Foods in Silver Spring! I do shop at David's for certain items, but there produce is less than desirable, not to mention a small fortune! Welcome, welcome, Whole Foods! Welcome, Welcome Wegman's. Columbia is FINALLY becoming a more desirable place to live! Now, all we need is Cava Mezze for a great place for lunch!

Anonymous said...

Whole Foods announced their 1st quarter today with details about new store locations and I'm disappointed to share there is no mention of Howard County.

HowChow said...

@Anon -- I know! I was so disappointed. I actually got on the analyst call until I heard them say there was a press release on the Web. I scanned the release and found nothing about us. We have to hope for the second quarter.