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Trolley Square suing Whole Foods

(DESERET NEWS) -- The owners of Trolley Square have sued Whole Foods for $50 million, claiming the natural foods grocer has been noncommittal about a store that was supposed to be constructed as an anchor tenant in the remodeled shopping center.

Attorneys for Trolley Square Associates LLC, based in Portland, Ore., filed the suit Thursday in 3rd District Court, claiming the Austin, Texas-based grocer breached a contract signed in October 2006. That contract, the suit claims, called for Trolley to build the store northeast of the main Trolley Square building, on the corner of 600 South and 700 East, and for Whole Foods to lease the space for at least 20 years.

Whole Foods would pay $1.5 million a year for the first five years, and eventually more per year with time, plus 1.5 percent of the store's annual gross sales, according to the suit. In 2007, Whole Foods acquired the Wild Oats supermarket chain, including a Wild Oats that's about one block away on 400 South, according to the suit. That store became a Whole Foods location and would compete with a would-be Whole Foods at Trolley, the suit claims.

In the fall of 2008, Whole Foods announced to shareholders changes in operation of new stores, including smaller stores that are around 35,000 to 50,000 square feet, which is smaller than the 60,000-square-foot store planned at Trolley, the suit said. Whole Foods reported in Securities and Exchange Commission filings that it increased financial reserves for lease subsidies, lease terminations and future payments on existing real estate from $92 million to $97 million. Original Article