Starbucks open in planned Whole Foods Center

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you’ve driven down Monroe Avenue between Brighton and Pittsford recently, you might have noticed a new addition. Starbucks is now open for business at 2740 Monroe Ave.

"This is the first building, the first business that’s open as part of the new Whole Foods Center," said Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle.

Moehle was joined by developer Anthony Daniele and Brighton Town Board Member Robin Wilt for a ribbon-cutting outside of the new Starbucks Friday morning. After announcing the opening of Starbucks, Moehle gave an update on the future of the complex.

Emily Putnam: “What’s the timeline for the rest of the plaza?”

Bill Moehle: "I don’t want to ignore the elephant that’s been in the room. There is still litigation pending, it’s frivolous litigation. I can’t say that strongly enough."

Moehle is referring to litigation brought on by groups like Brighton Grassroots, which is funded by Wegmans. The nearest Wegmans store is in Pittsford Plaza, less than a mile down Monroe Avenue from the site of the new Whole Foods Complex.

Moehle said the Town of Brighton has spent six figures fighting the legal action. He expects Whole Foods to be open for business “sometime next year.”

Daniele, who has offices in the Monroe Avenue corridor, says the delay in development has caused retail tenants to pull out of the project.

"Certainly the litigation has created delays in the project. It has made financing of the project very difficult and more expensive,” Daniele said. “We have lost tenants. Obviously, thankfully, Whole Foods remains committed and has stayed steadfast committed to the town of Brighton, to this location."

News10NBC spoke with Howie Jacobson, who leads Brighton Grassroots, about his opposition to the project. Jacobson sent us the following statement:

“Today is a good day for Town of Brighton with Starbucks investing in our community. On behalf of myself, Howie Jacobson, and Brighton Grassroots, we welcome them.

The delay in building the oversized plaza Is a 5 year issue which had and has Nothing to do with Whole Foods Grocery store or Starbucks. The issue stems from the Town Board and is the Incentive Zoning approach to approving this Plaza to increase the size and square footage of buildings allowed on the site. The 30 plus variances were never reviewed by Town Zoning Board, the traffic study has numerous flaws and the easements to the Auburn Trail are not properly granted.

The opposition groups have thousands of Brighton residents fighting to Right Size this Plaza ( which could include the Whole Foods!) and correct the ‘frivolous’ misuse of Incentive Zoning by the Town Board. As the 2 Judges have told the developer- “Build at your own risk!” This will be decided in Court possibly in 2022 or 2023.”

Concerns have been raised about the effect the new complex will have on traffic. Moehle expects once the complex is finished, there will be less traffic on Monroe Avenue.

"People are gonna get off 590, make the left turn right in and come to the Whole Foods store. They’re not gonna have to go down through the Clover-Monroe intersection,” Moehle said. “They’re not gonna have to drive another mile down the road. That’s gonna be taking traffic off of Monroe Avenue."

Other things he says will lighten up traffic include a new service road on the south side of Monroe Ave that’s meant to streamline traffic between businesses on that side of the street, as well as the Auburn Trail. The pedestrian and bike trail will run from Highland Avenue, almost two miles north to the Pittsford Town Line where it will connect with the existing Auburn Trail.

The current traffic pattern at the corner of Monroe Avenue and the new plaza is one recommended by the state’s Department of Transportation according to Moehle. He does not expect it to impede traffic or create delays during rush hour.