On yesterday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the Hope Enterprise Corporation and The Food Trust announced major funding from the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) for a redevelopment project at Broad and Bienville streets focused on community health and economic development that will be anchored by a 25,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market. The project is being developed by Broad Community Connections, a non-profit organization working to revitalize Broad Street from Tulane Avenue to Bayou Road, and L+M Development Partners, a developer of affordable, mixed-income, and market-rate housing. The 60,000-square-foot property at Broad and Bienville is the former site of a Schwegmann's supermarket and Robert's Fresh Market. Whole Foods Market confirmed yesterday that it plans to open a store there that will be one component of a larger project and to hire approximately 80 to 100 people. The City is actively supporting the developers as they work to close on financing and bring the project to fruition.
FFRI is offering a loan of $1 million to Broad Community Connections, of which, up to $500,000 will be forgivable.
"Awarding this FFRI loan is an important step toward promoting a better quality of life for residents in this Mid City neighborhood and fostering healthier lifestyle habits for all of our citizens," said Mayor Landrieu. "Projects like this create jobs, generate taxes, bring vacant properties back into commerce and reinvigorate neighborhoods. We look forward to more fresh food store openings in neighborhoods throughout our city."
In addition to the FFRI loan, the Board of Commissioners of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) approved an award of $900,000 to Broad Community Connections for the redevelopment of the property through its Commercial Corridor Revitalization program.
The FFRI, launched in March 2011, plans to award $14 million worth of low-cost, flexible financing to enable vendors to open, renovate or expand retail outlets that sell fresh fruits and vegetables in lower-income areas of the city where access to fresh foods has been lacking. The City previously announced FFRI awards to the iconic Circle Food Market in the Seventh Ward and DaFresh Seafood Market in Central City.
To fund the FFRI, the City is providing $7,000,000 in Disaster-Community Development Block Grant funds, matched exactly by the City's partner, Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE). In addition, the City is partnering on the initiative with The Food Trust, a national non-profit organization with a track record for administering innovative approaches to expanding access to fresh foods in Pennsylvania and New York.
"HOPE is excited about this latest success in our efforts to foster healthy lifestyles and economic development in communities like those along the Broad corridor," said HOPE CEO Bill Bynum.
The Food Trust executive director Yael Lehmann said, "We look forward to continuing our work with the New Orleans community to revitalize the health of its residents and the health of its neighborhoods."
Aimee Quirk, advisor to the Mayor for economic development, who oversees the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative for the City, said, "Our administration is committed to promoting and providing access to quality food and retail in every neighborhood in our city. FFRI supports the physical health of our citizens and the economic health of our neighborhoods. We are pleased that this FFRI loan is available to help bring fresh food, new jobs and private investment into this community."
"Access to fresh foods and produce is vital to improving the health of our residents. The FFRI program is improving the quality of life for our residents and will make New Orleans a healthier city," said City Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo.
District B Councilmember LaToya Cantrell "The long-awaited redevelopment of the old Schwegmann's supermarket will be a welcomed sight for the surrounding communities in need of fresh produce options and the return to commerce of a once-bustling location. I welcome the return of Whole Foods Market to the heart of New Orleans and look forward to visiting its expanded location. Today's announcement marks one more brick in the road to recovery spearheaded by the Mayor's office and NORA that will provide new job opportunities and neighborhood revitalization for residents with one of the top-rated companies to work for in the country."
About the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative
Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the launch of the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI) in March 2011 in an effort to expand access to healthy food at affordable prices, provide quality employment opportunities for New Orleans citizens and serve as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. New or existing stores funded through the FFRI program must demonstrate a commitment to the sale of fresh produce by dedicating significant shelf space to fruits and vegetables.
To fund FFRI, the City is providing $7,000,000 in Disaster-Community Development Block Grant (D-CDBG) funds, which will be matched 1:1 by the City's partner, Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE), for a total of $14,000,000. In addition, the City has partnered with The Food Trust, a national non-profit organization with a track record for administering innovative approaches to expanding access to fresh foods in Pennsylvania and New York.
Applicants must plan to either open a self-service supermarket or other grocery retail outlet primarily selling fresh produce, seafood, meat, dairy and other groceries; renovate and substantially improve a store's ability to stock and sell a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; or develop a real estate project that will lease space to a grocery retail tenant.