This Entrepreneur Took Money From the City and Closed Its Doors

by • December 19, 2013 • Central City, Public Finance, RetailComments (0)2974

The Central City grocery store that borrowed a low-interest loan under the city-funded Fresh Food Initiative, a program to bring fresh foods to under-served neighborhoods, has closed and is up for sale.

The Lens reports that Owner Doug Kariker said the store was too much work.

“I can’t do it anymore,” he said. The store was not profitable, he said, “but in our business plan, we didn’t expect it to be” in the first year.

DaFresh Seafood & Produce opened in January at 2139 Baronne St., at the corner of Jackson Avenue.  In his State of the City Address, Mayor Mitch Landrieu cited it as evidence of the success of his Fresh Food Retailer Initiative.

That program, funded in part by the city, is designed to improve access to fresh food and grocery stores by providing forgivable and low-interest loans to retailers that open stores in neighborhoods without supermarkets.  In August 2012, the Fresh Food Retail Initiative loaned Kariker $117,000 — $17,550 of which was forgivable — to open DaFresh Seafood.

Late last week, the store was shuttered and posted with “for sale” signs. The 1,000 square-foot building is on the market for $339,000.

The Fresh Food Initiative is funded with $7 million in federal Community Development Block Grants from the city and $7 million from Hope Enterprise Corporation, the city’s financing partner.  Other recipients of the Fresh Food Initiative funds include the Circle Foods Store and Project Refresh, which includes a Whole Foods.

Click here for the full story from The Lens.

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