Harlem's main shopping strip on 125th Street has attracted an H&M, an Old Navy and a smattering of trendy eateries, but the area still doesn't have a major grocery store. Now it is getting a Whole Foods.
The high-end grocery story is making a push uptown with plans to open two new locations in Harlem and the Upper East Side. One site is on West 125th Street and Lenox Avenue and another is at 87th Street and Third Avenue, in a new development by Jeff Sutton's Wharton Properties, which also recently signed a deal with Burlington Coat Factory for the site.
The two new stores will mark the eighth and ninth Manhattan locations for Whole Foods, which also has stores in TriBeCa, Chelsea, Union Square and the Upper West Side. It recently opened a location on 57th Street between Second and Third avenues.
Harlem has long suffered from a relative lack of fresh-food options, although more smaller grocery stores and restaurants have opened recently.
"We are getting a lot of different supermarkets and we don't have any major ones," said Barbara Askins, president and chief executive of the 125th Street Business Improvement District.
But Ms. Askins said she hopes the grocery store—stocked with organic quinoa and artisanal cheeses—will work to ensure it is accessible to more than just the neighborhood's influx of young professionals.
"The demographics of Harlem is changing, so we're getting people who can afford that price point that are moving here. Hopefully they will work closely with the community so the greater Harlem community can shop there," she said.
The Upper East Side, while one of the city's most established residential neighborhoods, has suffered from a comparative lack of major grocery stores. Fairway last summer opened its first location in the neighborhood, on East 86th Street between Second and Third avenues.
Christina Minardi, regional president of Whole Foods Market for the Northeast, said in a statement that the company conducted "an arduous search" for a location in the area.
The Upper East Side store will open in early 2014, while the Harlem store will open in the summer of 2015, company officials said.
Chase Welles, a broker with SCG Retail, who represented Whole Foods, said it had looked for locations in these areas for more than 10 years.
"The easiest answer is that there isn't much large space," he said.