Groundbreaking for Healthy Food Hub in New Orleans

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Construction started today on the ReFresh project, a healthy food hub that will bring retail, education, jobs and health programs to the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans. The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) joined New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and representatives from L+M Development Partners, Broad Community Connections, Chase, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, Hope Enterprise, La Raza, Tulane University and a host of community partners for a groundbreaking ceremony for ReFresh.

This $18 million mixed-use project will transform a 60,000-square-foot supermarket building, vacant since Katrina, into a healthy food hub in this distressed community. LIIF used capital from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative to provide a $1.5 million leveraged loan to fill a gap in the New Markets Tax Credit transaction for the project.

The project is part of a holistic redevelopment of the Mid-City corridor that includes a new mixed-income housing development, as well as the ReFresh site, which will provide space for a range of community serving organizations:

  • Whole Foods Market: a new small-format store offering lower priced goods
  • Liberty’s Kitchen: a new food production facility and café for an innovative social enterprise that provides job training for at-risk New Orleans youth, prepares healthy school lunches for thousands of local public school children and will produce prepared food for the new Whole Foods Market
  • Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University: a teaching kitchen associated with the Tulane University School of Medicine that will provide nutrition education to medical students, doctors, patients and the community
  • FirstLine Schools Inc.: office space for a charter management organization that employs a healthy food curriculum, including the Edible Schoolyard NOLA program

Nancy O. Andrews, President and CEO of LIIF, said of the project, “As a mission-driven community capital organization committed to increasing economic opportunity and building healthy communities, ReFresh is exactly the type of project that LIIF seeks to support. ReFresh’s integrated approach that combines health, economic revitalization, social enterprise and education is a model for well-planned community development.”

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