One of the most highly anticipated retail openings in the Crescent City is the return of the Circle Food Store in the Seventh Ward. The historic grocery market, first opened in 1938, was the city’s first African-American owned and operated grocery store, not only offering a retail option to the community but also becoming a neighborhood meeting hub. The historic market had suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Katrina and remained shuttered until recently, opening thanks to a comprehensive $8 million renovation.
The renovation project was designed by John C. Williams Architects and executed by general contractor the McDonnel Group. Financing was assembled from a $2.2 million Historic Tax Credit, along with $2.2 million in New Market Tax equity, $1.7 million from First NBC Bank, a $1 million “PROP” loan from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, a $100,000 Economic Development Fund grant from the city, as well as a $1 million Fresh Food Retailer Initiative loan, of which $500,000 is forgivable. The Berger Co. advised store owner Dwayne Boudreaux throughout the financing assembly process, while the city helped out in the permitting, recruiting, hiring and training process. The store now employs 65 people, 95 percent of which are New Orleanais.
Located at the intersection of South Claiborne Avenue and Toledano Street in Central City, the $24.4 million Magnolia Marketplace is also a much anticipated retail project, especially for the underserved Central City neighborhood. The 106,000-square-foot project, helmed by Stirling Properties and developed in a joint venture with JCH Development, will rise on a six-acre special economic development district, governed by the New Orleans City Council, which approved it in October 2013. Serving exclusively Magnolia Marketplace, the district levies a special 1 percent sales tax that will finance as much as $2.3 million in select extraordinary flood elevation, public infrastructure and financing costs. Development will create approximately 344 construction jobs and 217 permanent positions upon completion.
The project’s first phase, totaling 6,000 square feet, is complete with a Capital One Bank location operational on site. Tenants such as T-Mobile and Subway are slated for an early 2014 opening, while major-footprint tenants such as T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress For Less, PetSmart, Shoe Carnival and Raising Cane’s are scheduled to open in spring 2015. (Details on Magnolia Marketplace available here.)
Photos courtesy of the New Orleans Mayor’s Office