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  • By Lisa Brody

Panera leaving downtown Birmingham

Panera Bread, located for over a decade at 100 N. Old Woodward in Birmingham, has announced it will leave downtown Birmingham sometime this summer and relocate to Royal Oak to the new Beaumont Woodward Corners development.

While corporate officials did not respond to repeated requests, Birmingham store general manager Christina Preston confirmed the closing. She said she did not know when they would be leaving the prime location at the corner of Old Woodward and Maple, although Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) Executive Director Ingrid Tighe said their lease expires in August 2019.

The new location, at 13 Mile Road and Woodward, is about the same size, at 5,300-square-feet, but will offer more parking, which is a constant complaint for shoppers and tenants in downtown Birmingham.

“The lease was expiring in August,” Tighe said, and while some Panera servers said that rent was also an issue, she said that “there were no conversations that rent was escalated. Panera was looking to move for a new opportunity.”

Tighe said there is a national retail tenant that is interested in the location that is currently doing its due diligence.

“It (the Birmingham Panera Bread) always did a chunk less – about a half-million dollars less – than those with close parking and drive thrus,” said one local leasing expert. “Right now, downtown Birmingham is commanding such high rents that don't justify the sales. Everything is predicated on, do the economics work?”

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