When I lived in Washington, D.C. for a while, a Whole Foods store opened a couple of blocks from my house.
I was so excited given — how to put this diplomatically? — the differences between food shopping in D.C. and New York City, I toured the store twice on its first day.
It turns out that I shouldn’t have been thrilled only about the produce, meat, fish and a variety of other items. What mattered even more was the impact that Whole Foods had on property values in the surrounding area.
On P Street NW near Logan and Dupont circles, that Whole Foods transformed the surrounding blocks, stimulating new housing development, restaurants, boutiques, even a few art galleries. House and apartment prices shot up, though I should point out that the changes occurred at a time when the housing market already was pretty hot.
Still, what happened to the neighborhood and the house I eventually sold for nearly three times what I had paid 10 years earlier was not an isolated phenomenon.
According to a SmartMoney blogger, Whole Foods is expected to produce similar effects in Detroit, of all places. As blogger Quentin Fottrell explains,
Homebuyers choose neighborhoods because of the low crime rate and good public schools – but an equally big factor is the presence of a brand like Whole Foods, real estate analysts say.
At the same time, experts say it’s hard to know which is the chicken and which, the egg. Is it because the neighborhood shows signs of improvement or because the influx of new amenities causes the improvement? Probably, they say, it’s a little of both.
I also happen to have moved back to New York pretty close to the newish Whole Foods in the 90s on Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side before the store announced it planned to open there.
It, too, has made a significant difference, but it is, again, hard to know which came first — the appeal Whole Foods perceived by locating itself within the Columbus Square complex of new apartment buildings or whether the buildings themselves could have succeeded so impressively in attracting other desirable retailers (and tenants) to what had been a neglected strip of four blocks.
Among them are expansive sports, pet, clothing, arts and crafts, and home stores. There even are in the complex a Crumbs cupcake outlet and, yes, until it recently closed because of its proximity to so many other grocery stores, an Associated supermarket.
Of course, rents are high everywhere. But just consider how much a 652-sf, one-bedroom apartment on the ninth floor now commands in Columbus Square — $3,717 a month.
You can imagine that I don’t much care whether the chicken or the egg arrived first: Living where I do, I welcome each of them.
Tomorrow: Nix mash
To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you can privately search all available properties for a new home.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022