Whole Foods is coming to downtown Newark.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

The upscale grocery chain known for organic vegetables and grass-fed beef has signed a lease on a vacant landmark building that once housed an upscale department store.

Whole Foods will occupy about 29,000 square feet. Additional space will be used for apartments and retail stores.

It hopes to open the supermarket by 2016.

The Austin, Texas-based company says it wants to spur economic development in urban areas. It opened a store in Detroit in June and also plans a store in an impoverished area of Chicago.

Mayor Cory Booker, a vegetarian, says he's long wanted a Whole Foods in Newark. He calls it his "development dream."

A Whole Foods spokesman says prices at the Newark store will be cheaper than others in the area.

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