Steam shovels provided the backdrop for last week's groundbreaking for the new Winn-Dixie shopping complex at South Carrollton Avenue and St. Louis Street in Mid-City. The lot — site of a former Bohn car dealership — has sat fallow since Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu, District A City Councilwoman Susan Guidry and representatives of the supermarket chain and developer Stirling Properties were on hand for the ceremony. "Though the lot was not technically blighted," Guidry told the crowd, "it was a blight to our souls."
"We're not building the city the way it was; we're building the city the way we want it to be," Landrieu said, adding that the shopping complex is expected to provide 365 permanent jobs in the market and in the satellite businesses, which now include Office Depot, Neighborhood Pet Market by Jefferson Feed, Felipe's Taqueria, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Pei Wei Asian Diner and the frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry, "which I am really pumped up about," Landrieu added. (Hizzoner can be spotted at the Magazine Street location fairly regularly.)
Guidry referred to the complex as "a premier shopping as well as recreational area," making reference to the Lafitte Corridor, the 3.1- mile greenway that will eventually run through Mid-City to the French Quarter. In December, the city agreed to let the supermarket build a one-way car crossing on St. Louis Street connecting the main parking lot with a smaller satellite lot, which will cut across the greenway — a move opposed by the group Friends of the Lafitte Corridor (FOLC). Before the shovel-turning, Landrieu made oblique reference to the contretemps, thanking FOLC "for taking what could have been a very big conflict."
The market and its attendant businesses are scheduled to open in early 2013. According to Stirling Properties, 80 percent of the retail space has been leased. Construction on the greenway has not begun. — Kevin Allman