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Whole Foods Annouces Plans

The Mid-City location will be 25,000 square feet and is expected to open in late 2013, according to Kristina Bradford, a Whole Foods spokeswoman. Bradford said the store will anchor a "development" at the corner, but additional details were not immediately available.

The store, built as a Schwegmann's Giant Super Market in 1965, last housed a Robert's Fresh Market and has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina.

A plan by the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club to move its headquarters there never came into being.

Meanwhile, Broad Community Connections, a nonprofit that works to restore Broad between Tulane Avenue and Bayou Road, said in August that it planned to rehab the site as a fresh-food hub, with Whole Foods being tossed around at the time as a possible tenant. Bradford said that organization would be involved with the project. A message left Wednesday with Broad Community Connections was not immediately returned.

Bradford could not say when work is expected to begin but said it is expected to be done by December. The company is leasing the space, Bradford said.

District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said the announcement marks "one more brick in the road to recovery" for the city, both in terms of its tangibles and intangibles.

"The long-awaited redevelopment of the old Schwegmann's supermarket will be a welcomed sight for the surrounding communities in need of fresh produce options and the return to commerce of a once-bustling location," Cantrell said in a prepared statement.

City Hall spokesman Ryan Berni said the project, which Broad Community Connections will spearhead, will receive $1 million in funds from the city's Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, which aims to increase access to fresh foods in under-served neighborhoods.

Up to half of that money will be forgivable, Berni said.

Funding for the project will also come from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, which recently approved $900,000 for the work, Berni said.

This will be the second Whole Foods in New Orleans. A location in the 5600 block of Magazine Street opened in December 2002, and a location on Veterans Boulevard on the corner of Severn Avenue in Metairie opened in May 2005.

In addition to the New Orleans store, Whole Foods also announced Wednesday it will enter the Lafayette market with a 36,200-square-foot store.

That store will be located in the Ambassador Crossing development at the northeast corner of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Settler's Trace Boulevard.

The Lafayette store is expected to open in 2014.

In addition to the New Orleans and Metairie locations, Whole Foods also operates a store in Baton Rouge.