Jim Whittaker, Legendary Environmentalist and Mountaineer, Lends his Name to New West Seattle Mixed-Use Project
‘The Whittaker’ to Include Long-Awaited Whole Foods Market for West Seattle; Project Will Create 450 Retail Jobs and 1,000 Construction Jobs
Seattle, January 23, 2014 – Commercial real estate developers Lennar Multifamily Communities and Weingarten Realty today announced the naming of their new West Seattle mixed-use project as ‘The Whittaker’ after famed West Seattle resident and mountaineering icon Jim Whittaker.
Located at the corner of Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Alaska St. in West Seattle, ‘The Whittaker’ will include a long-awaited Whole Foods Market for West Seattle. As a six-story mixed-use development, it is slated to break ground in 2014 and will generate an anticipated 1,000 construction jobs during development along with 400 new retail jobs.
“As this is Lennar’s first residential project in Seattle, our goal was to design a building that distinctly reflects the Pacific Northwest,” said Brad Reisinger, president of Lennar Multifamily Communities in Seattle. “For us, an important part of this strategy is a genuine, local story to serve as the inspiration for the design. The Whittaker family has personally inspired me and generations of Northwest residents through their mountaineering achievements, as well as their commitment to community. We are honored that Mr. Whittaker has agreed to work with us to create a community within West Seattle that will continue to inspire its residents for generations to come.”
“We are equally excited to welcome West Seattle’s first Whole Foods Market to ‘The Whittaker’,” continued Reisinger. “With a commitment to offering the finest natural and organic foods available, maintaining the strictest quality standards in the industry, and providing an unshakeable commitment to sustainable agriculture, Whole Foods is the perfect fit for this location.”
One of FORTUNE magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for, Whole Foods strives to be a good employer—offering generous competitive benefits to team members, including award-winning health care benefits including domestic partner coverage; training; stock options; gain-sharing; team member store discounts; and wages that start and cap higher than other grocers.
‘The Whittaker’: Bringing West Seattle its First Whole Foods Market
As anchor tenant at ‘The Whittaker,’ Whole Foods Market will provide local shoppers with a wide selection of high-quality natural, organic and local products. With five existing stores located across Seattle, the company currently employs more than 1,500 team members and is expected togenerate 150 new jobs in West Seattle.
“At Whole Foods, we’re deeply committed to being a good employer, a good neighbor and a good citizen,” said Joe Rogoff, president of Whole Foods Market in the Pacific Northwest. ““Furthering the health and well-being of the neighborhoods we serve is one of our most important goals, and we’re thrilled to become a new part of the West Seattle community.”
With a dedication to cultivating valued partnerships in every community through school districts, non-profits and academic institutions, Whole Foods offers many programs including the Local Producer Loan Program; Whole Kids Foundation providing funds for salad bars and gardens in schools; and quarterly 5 Percent Days providing direct funding to local non-profit partners.
“We’ve donated more than $325,000 to local non-profits in the Seattle metropolitan area in the past twenty months. We look forward to finding new community partners in West Seattle to participate in the pursuit of our aspirations,” continued Rogoff.
The Whittaker: Paying Homage to a West Seattle Icon
“Jim Whittaker is a West Seattle native who embodies the outdoor ethos,” said Reisinger. “As our team talked with Mr. Whittaker about our concept for this project, it was exciting to hear his insights about West Seattle’s heritage and how we could best connect the water, parks and beaches into our design.”
“I was impressed with Lennar and Weingarten Realty’s genuine desire to design a flagship building that welcomes people into the West Seattle neighborhood,” said Jim Whittaker. “The beauty and culture of West Seattle has been a focal point of my life—much in the way it will be a defining characteristic of this project.”
Whittaker and his accomplishments have been described as iconic, groundbreaking and inspiring. A member of the American Mount Everest Expedition in 1963, he was the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Whittaker was also the first full-time employee of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) and became its President and CEO.
"As part of our mission to promote local heritage, we salute efforts by businesses to draw upon the rich history of the Duwamish peninsula, and two elements of 'The Whittaker' project do just that," says Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society.
"For decades, we have revered the Whittaker story, and invoking the name of such a world- renowned native son will instantly connect this new project to West Seattle in the public's mind. We also are pleased that a faded historic mural, which depicts the Admiral bluff and Alki Beach in the 1920s and has graced the site for more than 20 years, is to be reproduced and repositioned in the project so that it, too, can serve as a reminder of the unique character and roots of this community."
“We are proud to be associated with Mr. Whittaker, just as we are proud to be associated with the community of West Seattle,” said Robert Smith, senior vice president and director of new development at Weingarten Realty. “We’ve worked diligently to incorporate the thoughtful neighborhood input established by the West Seattle Triangle Plan, as well as feedback received as part of our Design Review Board and Design Commission approvals. We believe the quality of our project and the mission statement of Whole Foods adheres to the values that Mr. Whittaker represents. We look forward to our long term relationship with Mr. Whittaker and West Seattle on this exciting project."
“West Seattle is a wonderful neighborhood, with endless opportunities to experience the outdoors,” continued Whittaker. “I’ve always been proud of the natural beauty of the area, and the importance of enjoying all that nature has provided. This project epitomizes the culture and lifestyle of the Pacific Northwest.”
About Lennar Multifamily Communities
Lennar Multifamily Communities is a real estate investment started by the Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN), one of the nation’s leading homebuilders, as an initiative to combine its financial and entrepreneurial strength with favorable apartment fundamentals nationwide. Founded in mid-2011, Lennar Multifamily is focused on assembling a geographically diversified portfolio of institutional quality multifamily rental properties using both a development and value-add acquisition strategy in selected U.S. markets. Lennar Multifamily Communities co-invests with both institutional and private equity partners, providing the partnerships with fully integrated service capabilities, including construction management, asset management and property management. Lennar Multifamily Communities’ investment strategy is a market research based approach, focusing on risk-adjusted yields on properties in quality urban, Transit Oriented Developments and suburban locations. For additional information about Lennar, please visit the "Investor Relations" section of the Company's Web site, www.lennar.com.
About Weingarten Realty
Weingarten Realty Investors (NYSE: WRI) is a shopping center owner, manager and developer. At September 30, 2013, the Company owned or operated under long-term leases, either directly or through its interest in real estate joint ventures or partnerships, a total of 273 properties, which are located in 21 states spanning the country from coast to coast. These properties represent approximately 50.4 million square feet of which our interests in these properties aggregated approximately 30.1 million square feet of leasable area. To learn more about the Company’s operations and growth strategies, please visit www.weingarten.com.
About Jim Whittaker
Jim Whittaker, internationally renowned mountaineer, adventurer and environmentalist, is best known as the first American to summit Mt. Everest, on May 1, 1963. A visionary business and community leader, Jim was the first full-time employee of one of the country’s largest outdoor retailers, Recreational Equipment, Inc. – REI – retiring as its President and CEO after 25 years with the company. Jim is a talented and inspirational public speaker, who has given presentations to hundreds of corporations and organizations for more than four decades. He has led numerous, high-profile climbing expeditions, including the first ascent of Mt. Kennedy (with Senator Robert Kennedy) in the Canadian Yukon in 1965, the first American ascent of K2 in 1978, and the spectacularly successful Mt. Everest International Peace Climb in 1990. He is an accomplished blue-water sailor, having twice skippered his own boats on the 2,400-mile Victoria-to-Maui International Yacht Race. He and his wife Dianne Roberts, along with their two sons, made a four-year, 20,000-mile Pacific sailing journey to Australia and back to their home in Port Townsend, Washington, aboard their 54-foot steel ketch, Impossible. Jim is the author of the best-selling, award-winning memoir, A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond. For additional information about Jim Whittaker, please visit: www.jimwhittaker.com.
About Whole Foods
Founded in 1978 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (www.wholefoodsmarket.com) is the leading retailer of natural and organic foods and America's first national “Certified Organic” grocer. In fiscal year 2013, the Company had sales of approximately $13 billion and currently has 367 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Whole Foods Market employs approximately 80,000 team members and has been ranked for 16 consecutive years as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by Fortune magazine.