Whole Foods in Encinitas to close Feb. 22

Whole Foods Market has announced it is closing its Encinitas location Feb. 22, officials said.

The 23,000-square-foot store, at 687 S. Coast Highway 101 — in the Pacific Station mixed-use center — is closing as “part of a larger review of [the chain’s] overall portfolio,” said Betsy Harden, spokesperson for the Texas-based national grocery chain.

Nine stores will be closing nationwide.

The Encinitas store, which opened in 2011, is the only store impacted in San Diego County, Harden said, adding the company is looking to place affected employees at other store locations.

Whole Foods also has locations in Hillcrest, San Diego and Del Mar.

“As we work to position Whole Foods Market for long-term success, we have carefully evaluated our portfolio of stores to align with a more thoughtful growth strategy,” Harden said in a prepared statement. “This was not a decision that was made lightly and we are working closely with all affected team members to find alternative positions at nearby stores where possible.”

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she believes downtown will “remain vibrant” despite the store’s closure.

“We’re sad to see [Whole Foods] go but I don’t think it’s a reflection on any type of a trend downtown,” she said.

Blakespear said the opening of Lazy Acres last year and expansions at Seaside Market in Cardiff could have contributed to the Whole Foods closure.

Harden did not immediately comment if the Encinitas store’s performance was a factor in the decision to close.

The mayor said she would prefer to see another supermarket in the center rather than a bar.

When asked if the space could be revamped for residential space and used to help the city meet state-mandated housing numbers, Blakespear said the site was not originally on the Housing Element update.

She added the city is looking to reduce the number of sites on the plan, not add.

“We want to have a commercial downtown,” she said. “It’s important to maintain commercial, at least on the first floor. Pacific Station is a nice mix of commercial, residential and office space.”

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