Mayor Mitch Landrieu was joined by three members of the New Orleans City Council this morning to announce that Rouse's Market intends to open a new supermarket in downtown New Orleans in December 2011.
The 40,000 square-foot Rouse's store will occupy the site of the old Sewell Cadillac building at the corner of Girod and Baronne streets, in the shadow of office towers in the city's Downtown Development District (DDD). The Sewell Cadillac dealership closed in 2007 and the building has sat vacant ever since.
"On behalf of the people of the City of New Orleans I want to tell you how much we appreciate your willingness to take a risk, to invest, to understand the importance of actually rebuilding neighborhoods," said the mayor, addressing Donald Rouse, the grocery store's co-proprietor. "When the World's Fair started back in 1984 and they thought that this neighborhood would never come back...you now see many many years later how important it is to have an area that actually feeds the folks that are here. This is going to be an integral part of not only building this community, but building the city of New Orleans and it wouldn't happen without individuals who were willing to take a risk."
Rouse told Gambit he is "not quite sure yet" how much the new store is going to cost. "We're still doing the plans and the manipulations and such, but it'll be huge," he said. He also said the grocery store hasn't done a market study to determine the viability of the new storea common tactic undertaken by large out-of-state chains, before entering a new market. "We've been in business for 50 years," said Rouse. "Sure I could bring someone in to do a market study, but at this point we don't need a market study."
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Donald Rouse, with members of his family this morning...
In addition to the grocery store, Rouse plans to develop office rentals on the third floor of the site, and also hopes to offer some residential development on the fourth floor, he said.
Ron Gardner, president of the board of the DDD, thanked Rouse for "having the confidence to invest in us." Council President Arnie Fielkow also thanked Rouse's for buying up 20 Sav-A-Center stores from New York grocery chain A&P, when it pulled out of the New Orleans market back in 2007. Fielkow also said he was looking forward to having a grocery store near city hall: "We're going to be here a lot."