Seven miles south of Chicago’s bustling downtown area, is the neighborhood of Englewood, a community known for vacant buildings, stretches of empty lots and crime.
The residents of Englewood, almost one out of four of whom is out of job, heard a surprising announcement last month: Whole Foods is coming, planning to bring its aisles of heirloom tomatoes and costly organic cheer, by 2016. Although Whole Foods has built in gentrifying neighborhoods, betting on an 18,000-square-foot store in Englewood marks its biggest gamble yet.
The famously upmarket chain’s move into Englewood isn’t without precedent. Whole Foods opened a store in Detroit’s transforming Midtown neighborhood, where the company received $4.2 million in tax credits.