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Whole Foods to help bring other high-end retailers to Shreveport - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Whole Foods to help bring other high-end retailers to Shreveport

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A site map of the future Fern Marketplace. A site map of the future Fern Marketplace.
Courtesy: Sealy Real Estate Services Courtesy: Sealy Real Estate Services

Right now it's just a field of grass and weeds at the corner of East 70th Street and Fern Avenue, but Read King developers said that will change in a little more than a year's time.

"Youree and 70th is the epicenter for retail in Shreveport," said Jeff Read, principal of Read King Commercial Real Estate. "There's a little more than 2 million square feet in the immediate trade area. This is basically attached to this trade area."

The world's largest retailer of natural and organic foods—Whole Foods—will anchor the new shopping center called Fern Marketplace.

"When Whole Foods kind of analyzed with Shreveport market, they were looking for high income and a highly educated consumer," said Read, whose company develops Fern Marketplace. "And this site matched up real well with that."

Read worked with Whole Foods on other projects in Texas. He thinks construction of the new grocery store will begin in the first quarter of 2014 with it opening a year later. Read said having whole foods in the new fern marketplace helps read attract other businesses to the area.

"I would use the term 'high-end,' he explained. "You're going to see high-end retailers, high-end restaurants that come in to this project."

The development of this land has been in the works for more than a decade, according to Realtor JoAnn Wheless.

"We waited and we ended up doing the right thing because Whole Foods has come along now," said Wheless. "They're the kind of user we were hoping to get. They're demographic is the same demographic that we are able to provide with our location."

The first phase of the development will be the most southern part of the property. It runs up against East 70th Street, and will include Whole Foods. The grocery store will butt up against the BMW dealership with its doors facing east.

"We're still working out some of access issues," Wheless explained. "As you know, East 70th is a state highway so we work with DOTD. Fern Avenue is a city street so we work with the city. Of course we're working with the bank to try and coordinate some of our access with them so they can... Instead of being a stand alone, they can be apart of the development."

Traffic along Fern Avenue is the only concern George Beeson, Pierremont Place Homeowner Association President, said the neighborhood next to the new development worries about with the new businesses coming in.

"If you don't have traffic then you're not growing," said Beeson. "You have to take the good with the bad."

Not included in the Fern Marketplace development is a strip of land north of Fern Loop, which is next to Pierremont Place. That land is also for sale; however Beeson is still not worried.

"I know there are restrictions on there, he said. "And I'm not sure they can be open past either six or nine, but whatever the restrictions are they'll have to abide by them."

"Our demand for that property since Whole Foods was announced has been a lot with regard to medical offices, some really light office users—CPAs, attorneys, those kinds of things, where they have set hours of operation. There's not a lot of noise," Wheless said.

Read said there is a lot of noise coming from businesses that want to get into the Fern Marketplace development, but he can not confirm any rumors right now.

"It's just too early," he said. "We don't have a commitment from those retailers. People don't like to announce they're coming and then not come. Whole Foods is the only signed lease we have, but the balance of the project is shaping up to be a high-end tenant base."

One that the Shreveport market will just have to be patient with and wait and see what is to come.

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