[UPDATE: Announcement of the deal to bring Whole Foods and Burlington Coat Factory to Lafayette, along with additional information on the project, was made by City-Parish President Joey Durel shortly after this story was posted. In the announcement, Durel confirmed, as we reported, that Burlington Coat Factory has signed a lease to occupy the former Super Kmart building and Whole Foods Market has signed a letter of intent to construct a new store on an outparcel at the 3300 Ambassador Caffery Parkway site.
“We are happy to announce the redevelopment of the former Super Kmart building. This project signals the entry of two high-demand brands to the market and will undoubtedly encourage additional development in the area," Durel said. "I would like to thank Louisiana DOTD and our local team, LCG Directors and LEDA, for their efforts to attract these high caliber businesses to the property.”
The release noted that the building, which was built in 1994, has been vacant since 2003.
“It is exciting to have this large commercial site placed back into commerce. This development marks the beginning of a renewal for this urban location,” Gregg Gothreaux, Lafayette Economic Development Authority President and CEO, said in the announcement. “LEDA is grateful to the brokers, these companies, LaDOTD and Lafayette Consolidated Government for facilitating this project. The economic impact of these businesses and the resulting jobs will be significant for our community.”
The release noted that Burlington sells designer merchandise at discount prices. Its stores feature coats, apparel, shoes, accessories, baby clothes, furniture, toys, home decor items and gifts. It has more than 450 stores in 44 states nationwide. The original Whole Foods Market opened in 1980 with a staff of 19 people in Austin. The company now has 58,000 employees and 300 stores in 38 states, the District of Columbia, Canada and the U.K.
To help facilitate access management at this high-traffic location, local officials say the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has agreed to transfer its control of Ridge Road from Ambassador Caffery Parkway to the roundabout at Rue du Belier to LCG. This intergovernmental agreement will require approval of the Lafayette City-Parish Council. President Durel has submitted an ordinance to the council authorizing this agreement.]
A planned Whole Foods Market and Burlington Coat Factory will breathe new life into the long vacant Kmart site on Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
A source close to the deal tells The Independent that the world’s largest organic and natural foods retailer has signed a letter of intent to construct a store at the site, on an outparcel at the corner of Ambassador Caffery Parkway and Ridge Road. Austin-based Whole Foods has long sought to open a Lafayette store, and speculation had heated up in recent months that it was looking at various south Lafayette locations. Whole Foods will face off against its smaller competitor, Fresh Market, which is based in River Ranch.
The Burlington deal is firmer, as the company has signed a lease on the old Kmart building, according to our source. Based in New Jersey, the national department store specializes in clothing and shoes.
Official word on the deal is expected to be released shortly.