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Rouses Markets plans to house its 38th location in the former Sewell Cadillac Chevrolet building in New Orleans’ historic downtown, according to Rouses president Donald Rouse, who revealed the acquisition of the property yesterday, flanked by such Crescent City notables as Mayor Mitch Landrieu; City Council members Arnie Fielkow, Stacy Head and Jackie Clarkson; members of the Downtown Development District, and other local political and business leaders. Construction on the new store is expected to last around 15 months.
“This area has been underserved,” noted Rouse. “You have what’s referred to as the Arts District or the American Sector, the Lafayette Square community, the Warehouse District, Central City, the Lower Garden District, the CBD, the French Quarter and the Marigny — these are big residential and mixed residential and commercial neighborhoods without a major, large-space grocery store.” The Thibodaux, La.-based company already operates a small store in the French Quarter on Royal Street.
According to Rouse, the new store on 701 Baronne Street will be a flagship location for the regional grocer: “This will truly be one of the nicest urban grocery stores in the country.” Offering 40,000 square feet of urban-designed shopping downstairs, including 28,000 square feet of fresh food, the location will feature local and jet-fresh seafood; chef-inspired prepared foods; fresh sushi; fresh local, seasonal and organic produce; natural and organic items; prime meats cut to order by in-store butchers; homemade Cajun specialties prepared in-store; a Boar’s Head Deli; a salad bar; and an olive bar. There will also be seating inside and out, with plenty of parking available on the first and second floors.
With construction scheduled to end by November or December 2011, Rouse anticipates Saints fans tailgating near the store. “Being only a few blocks from the Superdome, I expect a huge turnout on game days,” he said. “And we will be able to deliver directly to fans’ tailgates.”
The four-story building site was built in 1953 for Pontchartrain Motors, and is one of New Orleans’ original International-style buildings, according to architect John Williams, who is designing the new Rouses Market. Sewell Cadillac moved into the building in 1981. The building has been unoccupied since 200,7 when the Sewell dealership closed.
In other company store-opening news, Rouses’ 36th store will open in August in Mathews, La., and the grocer has already broken ground on its 37th location in Lafayette, La., and a new, larger market to replace its current location in Lockport, La. Both the Lafayette and Lockport locations are slated to open by summer 2011.
The ninth-largest independent grocer in the United States, family-operated Rouses employs 5,200 people and has locations in Louisiana and Mississippi.