While I am sad to see the departure of Hi-Lo from Hyde Square, the to the neighborhood can and should be a good thing for Jamaica Plain. Working across socio-economic, racial and cultural lines, we can join together as one community, one Jamaica Plain, to ensure that Whole Foods is a good neighbor and community partner.
Contrary to what many believe, was not forced out. The owners of the building and the business, the Knapp family - non-Latino and non-Jamaica Plain residents – decided to close the business and lease their space to Whole Foods. The owners of the building are the same individuals who have left a large grocery space vacant on Route 9 for nearly a decade. Whatever one’s feelings on the departure of Hi-Lo and entrance of Whole Foods, an empty storefront of that size would have been the most devastating option for Hyde Square. Given past practice of the Knapp family, I am relieved that this site won’t go the way of Omni Foods.
Certainly there are concerns about the arrival of Whole Foods that are real: employment opportunities for the former employees of Hi-Lo, community benefits, traffic, parking, the impact on local businesses. These issues can and should be addressed collaboratively with the community and Whole Foods. Simply wishing that they “go away” will not make it so, nor would it in and of itself stop the demographic changes that have occurred in Jamaica Plain. There are proactive ways to preserve, protect and make even more vibrant the diverse Jamaica Plain we all love, and yes, Whole Foods can be a part of that.
Get involved – perhaps you can help promote literacy with our kids, work on affordable housing initiatives, assist in a , advocate for the , or support . Whole Foods must be accountable as part of the solution. From direct financial contributions for our neighborhood organizations to more broad-based initiatives such as access to healthy, locally-grown foods for everyone, we cannot only survive but thrive with Whole Foods in the neighborhood.
City Councilor, District 6