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Affordability The Hot Topic At St. Roch Market Meeting

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The St. Roch Community Partners, the non-profit group interested in running the show at the historic St. Roch Market, presented their proposal at a community meeting yesterday, then opened the floor to the spectators. The hot topic of the evening was no surprise — affordability of goods at the market. One of the SRCP founders, Richard Sutton, of St. James Cheese Co. said he has no plans to come to the market and "sell something no one here can afford." No exact price points were given, and the amazing feat of defining 'affordability' was not reached, but another SRCP founder, Seth Hamstead of Cleaver & Co., said their plan is to stay in the price range of Winn Dixie and Rouses supermarkets. The SRCP wants to operate two of the 12 stalls in the market; one slinging fresh produce, the other basic cooking staples like flour, rice, and sugar. The rest of the stalls will be leased out to those who can provide local, affordable products, and a restaurant will go in the back of the space.

The St. Roch Market, which has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina and just had a $3.7-million makeover, sits on St. Claude Avenue, the dividing line between the Marigny and the working class/up-and-coming St. Roch neighborhood. One guy in the audience was concerned about who the market would be catering to, mentioning gentrification and noting the "big divide." Hamstead's answer: "We plan on serving both sides of St. Claude."
Other highlights:
· Traffic and parking was another issue brought up a couple times in the Q+A. When the city revamped the property (with a market in mind, by the way) parking was not accounted for. The group said they might talk to Whitney Bank, which has a parking lot next door.
· Catherine Markel, owner of Faubourg Wines and an SRCP founder, says she doesn't plan on selling wine at the market since her bustling wine store is just a few blocks away. She said her reason for getting involved is because she cares about the future of the market.
· There is no exact rent price (Corporate Realty has the space listed in the super-vague "$3,000-$6000" price range).
· There's also not a set price for what the vendor stalls will lease for.
· What happens now? SRCP says they'll use some of last night's comments in revisions to their biz plan, but as far as hearing anything from the city, it's a wait-and-see situation.
As always, stay tuned.
· St. Roch Market coverage [Curbed NOLA]
· St. Roch Community Partners business plan [Redmellon]
· Listing: St. Roch Market [Corporate Realty]