A few months ago I heard that the old Schwegmann's at Broad and Bienville was going to become a Whole Foods Market. I live a dozen blocks from that location, so I was pretty excited, both because I like Whole Foods and because that particular corner has been an ungodly eyesore for years. As you are reading this, a groundbreaking ceremony is underway at the site of the new development, which as it turns out includes more than just a Whole Foods Market. Here is the press release, which I have lightly edited for your benefit:


On Thursday, May 9, L+M Development Partners and Broad Community Connections will break ground on a 60,000 square-foot development on Broad Street called the ReFresh Project. The fresh food access development will include a new Whole Foods Market, Liberty’s Kitchen full service café and commercial kitchen, and The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University. The ReFresh Project, a fresh food access development, has the dual purpose of anchoring economic development in the Broad Street commercial corridor and delivering much-needed, high quality fresh foods and groceries to underserved communities along Broad Street.


The project is an adaptive reuse of the former Schwegmann Bros. grocery building, which has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Tenants include:

· Whole Foods Market, who will operate a 25,000-square-foot store;

· Liberty’s Kitchen, a non-profit with the dual purpose of providing culinary and life-skills training program for at-risk youth and a healthy school meal provider for public schoolchildren; and

· Tulane University’s new Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, which will be a first-of-its kind teaching kitchen serving community members, medical students, and practicing medical professionals.


The ReFresh Project will also include indoor and outdoor community space for programs that will promote the health, wellness, and vitality of the surrounding neighborhoods, such as gardening, fitness, and education classes. The development will also include the central office for FirstLine Schools.


I am not a fan of marketing language, and I think were I promoting the event today, I might have written it differently, but the bottom line is that the development is going to be a great thing for Mid-City. I don't know how that particular location is going to support a Whole Foods, but I'm not going to complain. And any groceries willing to come into underserved communities in New Orleans are welcome in my book.


So while I won't be at the groundbreaking today, I'll be following the development with interest.