NEW ORLEANS -- A neighborhood group is asking for community input about their hopes for the future of the St. Roch Market for the second time in as many years.
The results will likely be given to the New Orleans Building Corp., but they will make the ultimate decision about who will operate the market in the future.
“This is a jewel for the St. Roch Neighborhood and a real asset for our neighborhood,” said Ben McLeish, executive director of the St. Roch Community Development Corporation, the group conducting the online survey,
“Putting out a new survey creates new input, fresh ideas.”
It took $3.7 million in city, state and federal funds, and the market is days away from completion.
In September, the City Council transferred the building to the New Orleans Building Corp. The quasi-public entity is now tasked with finding an operator to make it a thriving market again.
The New Orleans Building Corp. hired Corporate Realty to select the best suitors for it.
“We don't want to see somebody come in there and next thing you know there's all these stalls set up and there's people selling goods from their card tables,” said Mike Siegel, president of Corporate Realty.
Because it's not a public bid process, there's no firm deadline on when the operator will be chosen.
“I know the city is looking around. We basically put this idea forward and I should say we sort of put a draft forward,” said Richard Sutton, owner of the St. James Cheese Company and one of the founders of a group called the St. Roch Community Partners.
Along with a city affordable housing developer and another specialized business, the group pitched a non-profit market with fresh, specialized food vendors and a restaurant with a produce stand that helps fund the operation of the market.
“This cheese counter is geared for the people that I have here, and my cheese counter that's gonna be down a the market is gonna be very different,” Sutton said about his Prytania Street restaurant and shop.
The neighborhoods surrounding the market are highly diverse. On one side of St. Claude Avenue is the more affluent Marigny and on the other is the economically challenged St. Roch neighborhood.
The city’s goal is a market in the middle that works for both.