Whole Foods coming to Fashion Island

Whole Foods Market will open a store at Fashion Island next summer, Irvine Co. officials announced this week.

The high-end grocery chain will occupy a 32,000-square-foot space at the Newport Beach shopping center below Dick's Sporting Goods, adjacent to the Atrium Court.

The space was to be occupied by Dean & DeLuca, as the high-end grocer's West Coast flagship store, but plans fell through in late 2009.

Construction will begin in the fall and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2012. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods also has Orange County locations in Tustin, Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach.

Another location is slated to come to Laguna Niguel in 2012.

"As we build our new locations, we custom design our stores to meet the needs of the neighborhood and to reflect the spirit of the community and our shoppers," said Patrick Bradley, president of Whole Foods Market's Southern Pacific region. "We know that shoppers who visit Fashion Island are looking for a truly unique and entertaining experience."

The market will feature a diverse selection of beer and wine and a prepared foods section with restaurant-quality dishes, he said.

"These sections are perfect for shoppers who want to grab a meal on the go or round out their trip to Fashion Island with a delicious meal in an inviting setting," Bradley said.

The market's arrival comes on the tail end of the Irvine Co.'s recently completed $100-million reinvestment of Fashion Island, which included the addition of a Nordstom and more than 30 new stores and restaurants.

"Irvine Co. is excited to welcome Whole Foods Market to Fashion Island," said Keith Eyrich, president of Irvine Co. Retail Properties, in a prepared statement provided by company spokeswoman Erin Freeman.

"We believe Whole Foods Market will enhance the center's mix of eclectic, one-of-a-kind merchants who want their customers to experience more than the typical regional mall experience offers," the statement continued. "We are confident they will be a great addition to the community and to the success of Fashion Island as the entertainment, shopping and dining center of Newport Beach."

Not only will Whole Foods' arrival help to create a "one-stop shop" for Fashion Island visitors' shopping needs, it will also serve the many business people who work in and around Newport Center Drive, Freeman said.

A free trolley service connecting the major areas of the shopping center and parking lots is scheduled to begin in mid-August, Freeman said.

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