Whole Foods Market joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday to open its new 140,000-s.f. distribution center in the Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The new DC will allow Whole Foods to better serve its 26 Chicagoland locations as well as an additional 34 locations across the Midwest and Eastern Canada, says the natural and organic grocer.
“The Pullman neighborhood is an ideal location for our new distribution center. The proximity to major transportation and other business needs will help us to better serve our customers and support our stores in the Midwest and Ontario,” said Whole Foods’ Midwest Regional President Michael Bashaw. “We are now closer to the majority of our stores, shortening delivery time, and in the long term, we have plenty of additional space for expansion to support growth.”
Sitting on 16.5 acres in the historic Pullman neighborhood, the new DC features a fresh salad bar, outdoor grilling space and patio and an equipped exercise room for team members to use. The facility employs 100 people, who moved from the company’s previous 5-acre facility in Munster, Indiana.
The newly designed facility also features environmental improvements. Approximately 20 percent more electrically efficient, the DC saves more than 1.3 million kilowatts per year and more than $150,000 annually due to measures like natural refrigerants, occupancy light sensors, high-efficiency interior and exterior lighting, thermosiphon oil cooling and redistribution of refrigeration waste to heat floors.
With increased access to major transportation arteries, the DC allows Whole Foods stores to replenish products faster, ensuring shoppers’ favorite foods are always available, says the company. The facility is expected to move an average of 200,000 cases each week to Whole Foods locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.
“Whole Foods’ decision to move its Midwest distribution center to Chicago is a vote of confidence in the city and another sign of the economic renaissance underway in the historic Pullman community,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The new distribution center, coming on the heels of new Whole Foods Markets in Englewood and Hyde Park, is bringing more investment and opportunity to Chicago communities.”
Originally one of the sites for the production and assembly of Pullman Railway Cars in the late 1800s, the DC joins two of its suppliers, Method and Gotham Greens, in the changing neighborhood. In 2015, the U.S. Park Service designated the community as a National Monument for its historic affiliation with industry, land use planning and workers’ rights.
“The community has a strong dedication to its rich history, yet has a forward-thinking vision for its future. We’re incredibly proud to be part of the revitalization happening in Pullman,” added Bashaw.