NEW ORLEANS — When work wraps on rehabilitation of the old Schwegmann’s supermarket building on North Broad Street and Bienville Avenue in Mid-City, several other tenants beyond Whole Foods Market will call the 60,000-square-foot structure home.
The goal of the project will be to provide the area with healthy food options and educational components that lead to healthy lifestyles, said Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Broad Community Connections.
The nonprofit works to restore Broad between Tulane Avenue and Bayou Road.
While Schwartz declined to identify any other tenants of the building, citing ongoing lease negotiations, he said five are lined up so far, including Whole Foods, which will open its second New Orleans store and serve as the building’s anchor tenant.
“The Whole Foods is only 25,000 square feet of a 60,000-square-foot building,” Schwartz said. “We as a nonprofit have been very deliberate in working with the other tenants as partners.”
Broad Community Connections will receive $1 million in funds from the city’s Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, which aims to increase access to fresh foods in under-served neighborhoods. Up to half of that money will be forgivable, City Hall spokesman Ryan Berni has said.
Funding for the project will also come from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which recently approved $900,000 for the work.
None of that funding is going to the Whole Foods aspect, Schwartz and Berni have pointed out.
The mix of tenants that move into the space will work toward the goal of healthy living, Schwartz said.
“Just getting a store in a neighborhood won’t help,” he said. “There has to be an education component.”
Educational programming is being planned and managed by the Broad Community Connections Healthy Lifestyles Committee, chaired by Leah Berger Jenson, board member and director of the Ruth U. Fertel-Tulane Community Health Center on Broad and Orleans Avenue.
The Tulane School of Public Health’s Prevention Research Center will measure the effectiveness of the grocery store component.
Schwartz said he hopes to begin work on the building “very soon” and have it completed by the end of the year.
The store, built as a Schwegmann’s Giant Super Market in 1965, last housed a Robért’s Fresh Market and has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina flooded it.