Whole Foods desperate for cash, asks City to allow pay-to-park service

With their move to Lakewood just a few months away, Whole Foods must be really missing the money they earned from the weekend pay-to-park service operating on their property for nearly five years until being shut down by the City just a few weeks ago.

According to City sources, Whole Foods filed an application for a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) (#08-08291049) for the operation of a commercial parking lot after regular store hours. The application is currently in the review process by City Staff. It's a foregone conclusion they will get the new CO, since only the most extreme circumstances could keep it from happening.

But as the old saying goes, Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

In the case of Whole Foods, meeting the requirements might cost them (and their property owners) way more than they bargained for.

When BD posted the original story about Whole Foods greed in expanding the parking service to the Blockbuster side of the property, he noted the neighbors and the BelmontNA conducted extensive research into the process and property history...

BD and others started digging through the files and interviewing long-time Lower Greenville residents who remember when there were houses on Richmond and Belmont Avenues, torn down in 1969 and 1970 to make way for Safeway and Skillern's Pharmacy. We won't reveal what we found in these files, but the City accepted our claim that the pay-to-park service was not a valid use of Whole Foods Certificate of Occupancy for a Supermarket.

Now we can reveal what we learned. Any changes in the CO will require a Residential Adjacency Review (RAR) by City Staff. Under the City's Development Code, Section 51A-4.803, a residential adjacency exists when the property is adjacent to or directly across a street 64 feet or less in width, or an alley, from residential property. In this case, four residential properties face the Blockbuster on the north; on the east, the back of Whole Foods faces the Avalon community and a condominium on Richmond Avenue.

Since all these properties are within the boundaries of the RAR, Whole Foods will be required to construct a solid fence or other barrier, and provide landscaping services along the fence. Based on current estimates of $20 - $25 per linear foot to construct a fence along Belmont and behind the store - nearly 800 total linear feet - Whole Foods and the property owners are looking at a $20,000 expense. That is the equivalent of their (estimated) cut of the parking fees for 8,000 vehicles, or about 2,000 overpriced meals at the Bluebonnet Cafe.

With Whole Foods set to move into its new Lakewood location next year - March is the latest date we have heard - BD is ready to wager they are not going to spend any money for a fence. BD has been surprised before, especially when Whole Foods decided to not put a towing service on the Blockbuster side of the property (which created a buffer between the Whole Foods parking lot and the residential properties).

If Whole Foods' managers were not so greedy and just replaced the towing service at Blockbuster, things would have been so much quieter and less expensive.

BD and his neighbors still come out as winners if they decide to build the fence. Instead of seeing a parking lot everyday (and watching all the Whole Foods managers park each morning next to Blockbuster), we get a nice clean fence (at least until the taggers hit it) and enjoy a deep reduction in the noise level.

That works for BD.

By Avi S. Adelman under Dallas City Council , Code enforcement