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SOUTH WINDSOR – The Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday approved construction plans for the planned Whole Foods building at Evergreen Walk.

At the regular meeting, committee members unanimously approved the site plan for the 50,000 square foot building, which will replace two existing buildings, the current sites of Old Navy and Sakura Garden, an area of ​​53,000 square feet. The new building will consist of two units: a 40,000 square foot unit for Whole Foods and a 10,000 square foot retail space that will be available for lease.

PZC President Bart Pacekonis said he was somewhat concerned with empty retail space, recalling a similar space attached to the old Highland Market that was not in use.

“I see your group as being more active in finding tenants, and I hope we don’t make the same mistake and have that horror for 10, 15 years,” Pacekonis said.

Karen Johnson, project planner for Charter Realty, the management company of Evergreen Walk, said the company had seen an increase in rental activity since the Whole Foods announcement and was not concerned by the vacancy of the retail space.

“We are confident it will be hired shortly,” Johnson said.

The construction of Whole Foods is part of a larger initiative by Charter Realty to revitalize the property as a shopping destination for South Windsor and surrounding towns. These plans, described in a document released by the company, detail efforts to lease retail locations to various companies, though the document conceals their names.

An undeveloped 5,680 square foot lot by the former Moe’s is to be leased to a “national burger chain” and a “national track and field brand” expects to lease 5,715 square feet of space. Other storefronts have letters of intent for businesses to rent, but details have not been announced.

David Gagnon, a civil engineer at Langan Engineering, said the hope is to have Whole Foods accessible via the sidewalk of Evergreen Crossing, a nearby retirement community, which would also help connect it to the rest of Evergreen Walk.

Stephen Wagner, a member of PZC, said he was excited about the development of Evergreen Walk and satisfied with the way Charter Realty had handled it.

“It’s great to see that there is a long term plan to keep this place going and keeping it alive,” Wagner said.

PZC Alternate Member Megan Powell said that while she was not present throughout the entire application process, the company did a good job with the Whole Foods sitemap, except for minor concerns. .

“I think special care was taken throughout the process,” said Powell.

PZC member Michael LeBlanc said he liked the mural planned for the back of the building, but wanted to make sure it was easy to touch up if needed.

“The only problem is they’re hard to maintain,” LeBlanc said.

Pacekonis said he was also concerned about the upkeep of the mural, as well as what could happen in the distant future.

“I’m also worried that at some point this mural might want to be replaced with advertising,” Pacekonis said.

The commission finally agreed to make the approval of the request conditional on no advertising being able to replace the mural.

Mayor Andrew Paterna said he believes the new Whole Foods will be great for Evergreen Walk and presents plenty of additional development opportunities.

“This shows that South Windsor is still in a great position to attract economic development,” Paterna said.