Whole Foods to move regional HQ to city.
By Ted AYALA
The Glendale City Council announced at its Tuesday joint meeting with the successor to the redevelopment agency that it had been nominated by Los Angeles County for its “Annual Most Business Friendly City” award.
The award, which is conferred by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LACEDC), is given to cities that best meet the LACEDC’s goals to “attract, retain and grow businesses and jobs for the regions of Los Angeles County.” Other cities in the running for this year’s award include Baldwin Park, Pico Rivera, Santa Monica and Whittier. Last year’s recipient of the award was Monrovia, for which Glendale’s current city manager Scott Ochoa had previously served in the same capacity.
Councilperson Ara Najarian praised the city’s nomination.
“Too often we hear from naysayers who belittle and diminish the efforts of the council, [redevelopment] successor agency, and staff, and all the hard work we do to attract vibrant, exciting businesses,” he said. “But this nomination will be a vindication for all the hard work we continue to put forth year after year.”
“The fact that we’re nominated speaks [highly] of staff and the city manager,” concurred Mayor Frank Quintero.
After acknowledging the nomination of the award, the council and staff discussed methods to further attract and foment business in the area.
“We are striving to be partners with the investment and brokerage community,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa.
City staff noted that Glendale enjoys advantages over neighboring Burbank and Pasadena in respect to lower rent rates and higher vacancies. But it also needed to overcome recognition of those two cities as hubs for entertainment and technology respectively. Parking was also noted as an advantage, as well as ease of access to freeways and walkable spaces.
Strategies to be used in order to attract businesses – and the much-needed opportunities for employment they bring – are emphasizing attractive attributes for their employees. These include fast food options, fitness centers, retail destinations (with high-end retail and specialty stores at the fore), and after-work entertainment.
Other possibilities to attract finance businesses to the city included establishing city/broker events, offering assistance from a Community Benefit District, and coordinating involvement with regional economic development advocates.
The city does face some difficulties that it needs to address, among them how to best make use of its vacant commercial space and make it attractive to potential businesses. The former location of the Borders Bookstore at Broadway Avenue and Brand Boulevard was cited as particularly troublesome given its size and its relative obsolescence as a viable retail option today.
Still, the city’s work towards attracting new businesses has been paying off. A recent success for Glendale has been the decision by Whole Foods Market to move its regional headquarters to the area. The influx of tax revenue – not to mention the boon that its employees will bring to local businesses – was considered a coup for the city.
“We highly value our office workers because they provide vibrancy and stability to our downtown merchants and restaurants. We intend to cultivate an 18-hour day in Glendale’s major business districts and use our momentum to create further successes,” stated Mayor Quintero in a press release trumpeting the announcement. “We have an aggressive initiative to attract and retain office tenants this year. We provide a project concierge to help any prospective tenant find space, navigate through building and permit issues, and get moved in.”
The Whole Foods Market regional headquarters will be moving into the office building at 207 Goode Ave.
“We are excited to be relocating our support office for the Southern Pacific Region of Whole Foods Market to the city of Glendale,” said Patrick Bradley, Whole Foods Market’s regional president for the Southern Pacific Region. “The new space will be the home office for the teams that support our soon-to-be 50 stores in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii, and we are looking forward to being close to our Glendale Whole Foods Market on Glendale Avenue.”