Whole Foods warehouse that had been in Munster opens in Pullman

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Anthony Beale and Whole Foods officials break challah bread to celebrate the new Whole Foods distribution center that moved from Munster to Chicago's Pullman neighborhood.

Whole Foods Market has opened its new 140,000-square-foot warehouse in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood, replacing the distribution center it operated in Munster for more than a decade.

The Austin, Texas-based grocery chain, known for its organic produce, grass-fed beef and wild-caught seafood, had employed 90 workers in its 103,510-square-foot warehouse at 480 45th Ave., a short distance from the state line, which it opened in 2003. The employees moved to the new distribution center just off Interstate 94 on Chicago's South Side. It serves 26 Chicago area locations and another 34 supermarkets across the Midwest and Canada.

About 100 people now work in the warehouse on a 16.5-acre site in the historic Pullman neighborhood, industrialist George Pullman's company town that made sleeper cars for the railroads.

“The Pullman neighborhood is an ideal location for our new distribution center. The proximity to major transportation and other business needs will help us to better serve our customers and support our stores in the Midwest and Ontario,” said Whole Foods Market Midwest Regional President Michael Bashaw. “We are now closer to the majority of our stores, shortening delivery time, and, in the long term, we have plenty of additional space for expansion to support growth.”

The distribution center is expected to move about 200,000 cases of food each week to Whole Foods Market stores in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Ontario and Indiana, including the Schererville store.

"Whole Foods' decision to move its Midwest distribution center to Chicago is a vote of confidence in the city and another sign of the economic renaissance underway in the historic Pullman community," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference. "The new distribution center, coming on the heels of new Whole Foods Markets in Englewood and Hyde Park, is bringing more investment and opportunity to Chicago communities."

It's just the latest investment in the Pullman neighborhood, which was designated a National Monument in 2015 and where Method and Gotham Greens also have recently invested in new operations.

“This Whole Foods distribution center will help the Pullman/Roseland area continue to reclaim its history as a thriving hub for manufacturing and innovation,” Alderman Anthony Beale said. “As this facility grows it will add even more jobs and have an even stronger impact throughout the 9th ward.”

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.