An exciting transformation is taking place on the corner of Broad and Bienville in New Orleans, Louisiana. Construction is now underway on the ReFresh project, a 60,000 square foot development that will bring fresh food access and economic development to a traditionally underserved area of New Orleans. The project is being developed by Broad Community Connections, a local nonprofit led by transportation and urban planning advocate Jeff Schwartz, and New York-based L+M Development Partners. The project’s financing is made possible through lenders and investors, as well as the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative and the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.
The development will be anchored by Whole Foods, which will occupy roughly half of the dilapidated grocery store building that has remained vacant since Hurricane Katrina. More than just a food retail center, the ReFresh project is designed to make a broader impact on fresh food access and community development. In addition to the Whole Foods, the ReFresh project site will also be home to:
- Liberty’s Kitchen – A nonprofit with the dual purpose of providing culinary and life skills training for at-risk youth and healthy meals for public schools;
- Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine – A medical school kitchen teaching residents, students and doctors how to use healthy cooking to prevent food related chronic diseases;
- Indoor and outdoor community space for gardening, fitness and other programs that promote the health and wellness of the surrounding neighborhoods;
- Offices for community organizations including Firstline Schools, Broad Community Connections and the Crescent City Community Land Trust.
Mirroring the collaboration of the development and finance partners, the tenants of the ReFresh project will be able to forge partnerships and benefit from their location in a development with a larger mission to promote health and vitality. In a collaborative partnership with Whole Foods, youth at Liberty’s Kitchen will be able to supply prepared foods to the Whole Foods store and take advantage of employment opportunities upon finishing their culinary training. The development may become a field trip destination for Firstline Schools’ K-12 students learning about healthy food choices, giving them access to various organizations and community space.
With a mission to broaden access to fresh food and spur economic development in the surrounding neighborhood, the ReFresh project seems poised to truly enhance the community it serves.
What projects are taking place in your city to promote the health, wellness and vitality of your communities?
Credits: Photos by Jessica Yoon. Data linked to sources.