Fresh off the heels of receiving a $1 million loan from the city’s Fresh Food Initiative, Jack & Jake’s Public Market and developer Alembic Community Development held a ground breaking yesterday for the redevelopment of the Myrtle Banks School.
Over 100 people showed up at the 112-year-old Central City building Monday (June 23) to celebrate the installation of the final bracket on the roof, a symbolic moment for a project years in the making.
Jonathan Leit, an Alembic director and the developer who spearheaded the project, expressed gratitude to partners and explained the background of the redevelopment to the crowd.
The primary tenant will be Jack & Jake’s Public Market, which will be a 23,000 square foot fresh food hub that takes up the first two floors of the development.
The third floor will have 9,300-square-feet of office space reserved for nonprofit groups and small businesses involved in the creative industries. Outside there will be 10,000-square-feet of space for seating and open-air markets.
The $17 million project is funded in part by new market and historic tax credits, $1 million from the city’s Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, $900,000 from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, and $300,000 from the Foundation for Louisiana, among other sources.
Construction began in June 2013 and the store is expected to open in October. Jack & Jake’s will create 33 full-time jobs and 35 part-time jobs.
“We think we can connect two major groups of people that really need each other: the farms here in Louisiana and Mississippi that need access to the market and the rest of us that really need access to better, healthy foods,” said John Burns, founder and CEO of Jack & Jake’s.
Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell described the project as the “tipping point” for the Central City boulevard.
The opening of Jack & Jake’s comes at a time when O.C. Haley Boulevard is experiencing a renaissance it hasn’t seen for decades.
Myrtle Banks is one block from the future home of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra at 1436 O.C. Haley Blvd., which will occupy the former site of a Gators department store and will include a 360-seat performance venue, a rehearsal room and an archive of New Orleans jazz.
Then there is also a new 30,0000 square foot Southern Food and Beverage Museum at 1504 O.C. Haley Blvd. and the brand new New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s office in the Harrell building that the city redeveloped for $20.6 million.