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Grocer apt to pick old Herald site

Whole Foods Market Inc. is considering opening a fifth Boston store at the former Boston Herald property in the South End, officials briefed on the discussions said.

The upscale grocer has been eyeing the location for more than a year and is close to reaching a deal for the site, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.

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Wegmans Food Markets, the family-run chain that opened its first Massachusetts store in Northborough last fall, also scouted the property earlier this year.

Ted Tye, managing partner at National Development, which is redeveloping the block, would not comment on specific retailers, but said, “Having a grocery store on the site has been part of the plan from the beginning. We’ve had incredible interest from grocers but are not at this point announcing any deals.”

The Newton real estate company plans to tear down the two-story newspaper building and replace it with four new ones that will feature 475 apartments and a mix of retail stores and restaurants.

The site, near both the Massachusetts Turnpike and the Southeast Expressway, is bounded by Herald, Harrison, Traveler, and Albany streets.

Heather McCready, a Whole Foods spokeswoman, said the company “is always looking for possible locations for stores in the Boston area.”

She would not discuss specific sites but said the grocer announces store openings during its quarterly earnings calls. The next call is scheduled for July 25.

Whole Foods opened a smaller store in Jamaica Plain last year, a move that divided the neighborhood and sparked opposition from some residents who worried that the company’s arrival would mean gentrification and the eventual displacement of low- and moderate-income families.

Meanwhile, Wegmans, which has stores planned for Burlington and Chestnut Hill, has said it is also committed to opening in Boston. Bill Congdon, Wegmans’ New England division manager, said it has not selected a site yet, but the company’s chief executive expects to visit potential locations this summer.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson@globe.com.
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