Dryades Public Market Opens In Central City

NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined City officials, The Food Trust, Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE) and community members Thursday, April 14, 2016, to celebrate the grand opening of the new Dryades Public Market at 1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in Central City.

         The 32,300 square-foot Dryades Public Market is located in the former Myrtle Banks Elementary School building, which has been completely restored. The project was a recipient of the City’s Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI), a program designed to increase access to fresh foods in traditionally underserved neighborhoods. The grocery store and prepared foods market anchors a major revitalization project on Central City’s main corridor and brings 45 jobs to the neighborhood.

         “We’re excited that Dryades Public Market is officially open for business to serve the residents of Central City,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “The City’s Fresh Food Retailer Initiative allows us to increase access to fresh food options for our citizens in neighborhoods that need it most, promote a better quality of life and foster healthier lifestyle habits for all our citizens. Projects like this create jobs, generate taxes, bring vacant properties back into commerce and reinvigorate neighborhoods. We look forward to more fresh food store openings in neighborhoods throughout the city.”

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         District B Councilmember Latoya Cantrell said, “Our communities need healthy food options, especially at a reasonably-priced choice. As a city, we have certainly made progress in efforts to make our citizens healthier. Dryades Public Market will serve as a beacon for other healthy initiatives and economic developments in neighborhoods of our city where it is most needed. I look forward to seeing the community come together and seeing this amazing section of our city thrive even more.”


Fresh Food Retailer Initiative

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         Dryades Public Market received a $1 million loan from the FFRI with a forgivable amount of $500,000. The proceeds of the loan were used to complete leasehold improvements, purchase furniture, fixtures and equipment and provide working capital.

         Launched in March 2011, FFRI awards low-cost, flexible financing for vendors to open, renovate or expand retail outlets in areas of the city lacking fresh food access. The City previously announced FFRI awards to the Circle Food Store in the Seventh Ward and the ReFresh project featuring Whole Foods Market in Mid-City.

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         Rebecca Conwell, Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Economic Development, who oversees the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative said, “We are committed to promoting and providing access to quality food and retail in every neighborhood in our city. FFRI supports the physical health of our citizens and the economic viability of our neighborhoods. We are pleased to support Dryades Public Market as they bring fresh food, new jobs and investment into Central City.”


NORA’s Commercial Corridor Revitalization Program


         Dryades Public Market also received a $900,000 award from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) through their Commercial Corridor Revitalization program which provides funding for catalytic projects on key commercial corridors in New Orleans.

         Jeff Hebert, Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, said, “NORA is excited to partner with Alembic Community Development in the revitalization of the former Myrtle Banks School. This once blighted building that many thought could never come back is not only back, but is also a much needed fresh food destination and another great addition to the thriving Oretha Castle Haley corridor. This is an outstanding example of the projects we support through our Commercial Corridor Revitalization Program, supporting catalytic projects in underinvested neighborhoods. Through such investments we hope to change neighborhoods and people’s quality of life by providing goods, services, economic development and jobs.”


Dryades Public Market


         In order to best serve its community, Dryades Public Market offers:


• Open doors seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Fully-stocked grocery shelves with food staples from diapers to pet food and flour to barbecue sauce, all at diverse price points including hundreds of items under $5.00

• Full fresh produce section featuring seasonal and local produce

• Refrigerated cases stocked with local meats, meats cured in-house, and local eggs and dairy

• Dozens of local products including local items in the bakery, produce department and on the grocery shelves

• Indoor dine-in and outdoor patio seating, with Wi-Fi available throughout the store

• Dine-in options including Esses Foods (house-made pastas), Curious Oyster Company (raw oysters and seafood dishes) and Bar 38 (happy hour, cocktails & mocktails), as well as in-house prepared hot food dishes


         Daniel Esses, CEO of Dryades Public Market, said, “We are so happy to be opening our doors to fully-stocked market shelves and a diverse range of options for our customers. We look forward to being a place where neighbors will stop in for groceries as well as gather with friends, and we are so pleased to have already been warmly welcomed here on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.”

         Gary Williams, Senior Vice President of Community and Economic Development at HOPE Enterprise Corporation, said, “For over a decade, HOPE has actively engaged in the redevelopment of small businesses, nonprofits and housing along O.C. Haley Blvd. and in Central City. Our investment in Dryades Market complements this ongoing work by bringing jobs and healthy food options to our neighborhood. We are grateful for the vision of Mayor Landrieu and his team with the City of New Orleans in the crafting of the Fresh Food Retailers Initiative and for the leadership of Alembic Development, that made this project a reality.”


Myrtle Banks Building Restoration


         The Myrtle Banks Elementary School building, home of Dryades Public Market, was restored by Alembic Community Development.

         Jonathan Leit, Director of Alembic Community Development’s New Orleans Office, said, “Alembic congratulates the entire team at Dryades Public Market on the grand opening of its food market in the Myrtle Banks Building. We thank all of our public and private funders, development team members, and community members for their partnership in helping to bring this day to fruition. The project began with a vision to preserve this beautiful historic building, promote economic development and improve fresh food access for Central City, and we’re very proud of the mix of grocery, small business and nonprofit offices, and art exhibition space that now serve as an anchor on the Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard corridor.”

         The building was originally opened in 1910 as the McDonogh No. 38 School. The elementary school was later renamed in the 1980s for Myrtle Rosabella Banks, a long-time educator and principal, and served the neighborhood until it was closed in 2002. In 2008, a major fire destroyed the roof and much of the 3rd floor, leaving the building exposed to the elements and further deterioration for several years. Alembic Community Development acquired the historic school in 2011, and began construction in 2013 on an adaptive reuse program to transform the building into a home for fresh food, the arts, nonprofits and small businesses. The Myrtle Banks Building has been selected for a 2015 Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation by the Louisiana Landmarks Society and an Alliant Build America Award by the Associated General Contractors of America.

         Alembic and the building received an award to support restoration from the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority through their Commercial Corridor Revitalization program.

         The Louisiana Office of Community Development provided Alembic with debt financing to support the renovation of the historic building.

         Pat Forbes, Executive Director of the Louisiana Office of Community Development, said, “In the years to come, the impact of a vital and active Dryades Public Market will be evidenced by the number of jobs created, the continuing revitalization of the Oretha Castle Haley neighborhood, a healthy population, and the re-established sense of community that comes with the presence of a neighborhood anchor. The use of disaster recovery funding to drive economic development and provide affordable fresh food to the Central City corridor is a perfect example of recovering safer, stronger and smarter than before.”

         Dryades Public Market has partnered with workforce programs in Central City to hire employees, working in close coordination with the Foundation for Louisiana’s Community Investment Fund.

         Lydia Cutrer, Director of Community Investment Fund with Foundation for Louisiana, said, “Foundation for Louisiana remains committed to supporting the economic growth of businesses and residents in neighborhoods such as Central City. We are pleased that Dryades Public Market's new leadership has hired graduates of workforce programs such as Cafe Reconcile and continues to build relationships with this community.”

         First NBC Bank provided New Market Tax Credits, investment and construction and permanent financing towards the renovation of the historic building.

         Brad Calloway, Executive Vice President with First NBC Bank, said, “First NBC Bank is pleased to be a part of the redevelopment of the Myrtle Banks Building into the Dryades Public Market. This project continues the revitalization of New Orleans and specifically the Central City neighborhood.”


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