Arboretum Village 2

In an anticlimactic announcement to neighbors who were frequent visitors to the neighborhood Fresh Market, the specialty grocery chain’s owners announced the Lakewood store — along with all other Fresh Market stores in Texas — will be closing May 18.

Based solely on watching traffic in the store since its opening in November 2014, more than a few people have wondered out loud (and online) about whether the grocer could remain open much longer because it just didn’t seem to be attracting much business.

Fresh Market’s parent recently was purchased by a private equity firm, according to the Dallas News, and the company’s new owners apparently decided to cut money-losing elements of the business quickly. Eight stores in Texas are closing, including another Fresh Market in Turtle Creek Village, and another five stores are closing in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas.

What this means for Arboretum Village is anybody’s guess. We’ll give Lincoln a call for comment, and we’ll report their comments here when we receive them.

As part of the $10 million-plus renovation of the center, Lincoln received $1 million in city grant funding to help fund construction based on the real estate company’s promise to find a grocery anchor for the center. Fresh Market moved into the center in November 2014, beating a Dec. 31, 2014, deadline to receive the city money.

What that means in terms of the city funding is a good question, one we’ll dig into and report back when we know the answer. We didn’t ask in 2014 what would happen if a grocery moved in and then failed, but it looks like that would have been a good line of questioning to pursue.

Something else to consider: Larger tenants typically sign multi-year leases for shopping centers, and even if the business pulls out, the landlord continues to collect rent. A good example is the former Whole Foods/Walmart Market at Greenville & Belmont; owner Mitchell Rasansky continues to rake in rent checks from Walmart even though the grocer moved out.

Assuming that’s the case here, Lincoln probably won’t be hurt economically by Fresh Market’s demise, but new leasing of the still-empty spaces at the center will be that much more difficult because Fresh Market was expected to be the center’s big traffic generator.

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