Global Foods Market Coming to Washington University Project in the Delmar Loop

nextSTL has learned that grocer Global Foods Market will be the largest single retail tenant in the $80M Washington University mixed-use development in The Loop, occupying 15,000 square feet. The grocer currently has one location in Kirkwood. That location is nearly 25,000 total square feet. The Loop site at Eastgate and Delmar will feature a total of appoximately 22,000 square feet of retail space. For reference, Culinaria in downtown St. Louis has a main floor of 21,000 square feet. the current Trader Joe's at the Brentwood Promenade is 10,000 square feet. The lease is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks and Global Foods Market hopes to open by Summer 2014.

A full-service grocer has long topped the list of wished by Loop residents and visitors. Mock-ups of grocery stores have been featured in Loop planning documents over the past several years and a variety of developers have approached grocers from Trader Joe's to Schnucks about openning a store. Although the Culinaria concept has proven successful downtown, Schnuck's has a location nearby on Olive and may have worried about cannibalizing sales, Dierberg's doesn't yet have an urban concept store, Trader Joe's is expanding their Brentwood location and Whole Foods is opening a Central West End store.

Washington University purportedly sought a local grocer, prioritizing the signing of an established St. Louis business over a national chain such as Trader Joe's. A grocer with a focus on international foods was also a priority. According to the university website, 1,500 students from other countries are currently studying at WU. In addition, nearly 40 percent are listed as multicultural or international students.

The university isn't stopping with the Loop new construction project. WU has previously announced plans to invest $20M in the coming years to renovate 25 smaller historic apartment buildings it owns in the Parkview Gardens neighborhood just north of Delmar. Adding to the development boom is the $44M Loop Trolley project that plans to break ground this year. A effort dubbed The Loop Media Hub seeks to bring gigabit Internet access along the streetcar route. Installation would coincide with contruction of the 2.2-mile line.

{the project area (blue) spans University City and the City of St. Louis (red line)}

{project site plan – project (blue) spans University City and the City of St. Louis (red line)}

{model of WU Loop infill project}

From the Global Foods Market website:

When Suchin Prapaisilp arrived in St. Louis in 1970 from Thailand, he noticed there was not a way for recent immigrants like himself to enjoy the food that they enjoyed back in their homelands. With $2,800 dollars saved up from working three jobs, he opened one of the first international grocery stores in St. Louis on South Grand Avenue. In a small storefront with one light bulb, Suchin and his brother expanded their store slowly, making trips to Chicago every weekend to purchase goods to sell at his store. As word spread about the new store where one could buy noodles from Korea, yams from Africa, and rice from Thailand, Americans of all backgrounds knew where they could find comfort food from home as well as new and unique international foods to try for the first time. Seeing the need to expand to cater to an ever-growing immigrant population and interest in international foods, Suchin opened Global Foods Market in 1999 at its present location in Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis.

For the record, Washington University made it official official today (7/18/13): Washington University brings Global Foods and the Peacock Loop Diner to The Lofts of Washington University​​