BEVERLY — The controversy over the proposed Brimbal Avenue project hasn’t stopped Whole Foods Market from proceeding with its plans to come to Beverly.
The company has announced that it has signed a lease for a store on Brimbal Avenue with a projected opening of 2016. It has also sent letters to city councilors announcing their intentions.
“I am excited to confirm the news that we will be joining the Beverly community,” wrote Laura Derba, president of Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region.
The company said the store will be part of the North Shore Commons Shopping Center, a proposed plaza that has drawn heavy opposition from residents over concerns about traffic.
A spokesperson for Whole Foods Market said the company would not comment on the opposition to the plaza.
“We’re simply tenants,” said Heather McCready, the public relations manager for the company’s North Atlantic region. “We’re really excited about the opportunity to open in Beverly. We think it will be a great fit, and we’re looking forward to being a community partner.”
The store will have 150 employees, according to Whole Foods.
The store and the plaza still need several things to happen before they can be built. It is scheduled to be constructed on land now owned by the state. Legislation is pending at the state level that would allow the state to swap parcels of land with developer CEA Group, the company that plans to build North Shore Commons.
If the land swap goes through, the state plans to start a $5 million project to improve traffic flow in the area. The state is scheduled to announce this week if the project has been funded, according to a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
Construction of the shopping plaza would not begin until the traffic project is complete. CEA Group would need to apply for special permit from the Planning Board to build the plaza.
In her letter to city councilors, Derba said each Whole Foods Market gives 5 percent of its net profits to local communities. She said each store has a community liaison who helps the company support local nonprofits, organizations and schools in the neighborhoods around their store.
“We even offer programs that put salad bars and gardens into schools to get kids on the path to healthy eating,” Derba wrote.
Whole Foods Market, which sells natural and organic food, has 367 stores across the country. There are 28 in Massachusetts, including in Swampscott and Lynnfield.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.