A Little Background on Columbia’s Whole Foods Deal


The first time Lyle Darnall met with Whole Foods executives, it was 2004. They all piled into an SUV and drove through Forest Acres.

When they arrived at a site across from Richland Mall, they sat silent for several minutes before Whole Foods co-owner A.C. Gallo said it was time to go. “He was trying to get the feel of the site, the feng shui,” said Darnall, managing director with Edens, a Columbia-based developer and manager of East Coast shopping centers, speaking last week to a group of Leadership Columbia alumni.

That deal fell through, but Darnall and other executives kept the company’s ear for the next eight years until conditions were right – from a site with the proper feng shui (a system of positioning buildings for the best energy flow) to proving that Columbia was a town with a “foodie network.”


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