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Lincoln Public Schools District Office

A sketch of the courtyard area at the Lincoln Public Schools headquarters site.

Whole Foods considers its planned Lincoln store so important it’s making an exception to corporate policy.

Normally, the company only announces planned new stores every three months, naming them during its quarterly earnings announcement.

In fact, Whole Foods spokeswoman Kate Klotz said this might be the first time in company history it has deviated from its tightly controlled script.

“It’s very unique for us to be doing it this way,” Klotz said.

But she said Whole Foods felt it was important to participate in Tuesday’s groundbreaking for the development at 59th and O streets that will include the store and the new Lincoln Public Schools District headquarters.

LPS officials in February confirmed what might have been the worst-kept secret in Lincoln: that it was negotiating with developer Continuum Partners to bring in Whole Foods as an anchor tenant for the retail portion of its development.

However, Tuesday is the first official acknowledgment from Whole Foods itself that it plans the store.

“Today, we’re thrilled to finally confirm our commitment to the city of Lincoln,” Scott Saulsberry, vice president of operations for the Midwest region, said in a news release.

Klotz said Whole Foods hopes to have the store open before the end of 2013.

It will be 30,000 square feet and employ about 100 full- and part-time employees.

One unique feature about the store, she said, is that up to 20 percent of its inventory will be from local sources.

Klotz said that at some point next year, as the store gets closer to opening, Whole Foods will hold meetings with local suppliers to give them an opportunity to present their products.

Whole Foods will be the third natural foods chain store to come to Lincoln in the past couple of years.

Trader Joe’s opened at SouthPointe Pavilions in late 2010 and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage opened earlier this year near 48th and O streets.

Klotz said Whole Foods has been targeting Lincoln for about two years and checked out multiple sites.

She said the company takes into account several factors in locating a store, including traffic patterns and locations of competitors.

“This site just had everything we were looking for,” she said.

In addition to Whole Foods and the LPS district offices, the development also is slated to have 11,600 square feet of other retail space.

In a news release, LPS Superintendent Steve Joel said the development will bring “new economic vitality to our community."

Reach Matt Olberding at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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