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Whole Foods Market makes it official in Shreveport

Kate Archer Kent

Construction on a Whole Foods Market is officially underway in Shreveport.

It marks the sixth grocery store in Louisiana for the Austin, Texas-based chain that specializes in natural and organic products, and prepared foods.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, the company’s executive marketing coordinator for the southwest region Laura Zappi reassured Shreveporters who have pined for Whole Foods that the attraction was always mutual.

“We’re so excited to be here. We’ve wanted to be in this city for a really long time. We know that the community has wanted to have us here. So, we’re really glad that we’re able to make it happen now,” Zappi said, who was one of several company officials to attend the event.

Whole Foods will be the anchor tenant in a potentially 19-acre development by Houston-based Read King Commercial Real Estate.

There are 10 retailers that are lining up to sign leases in the upscale Fern Marketplace development, according to brokerage agent Jo Ann Wheless. She represented the landowners, Querbes Land Company LLC, in the transaction. She said the family was patient in developing the land and considered several options.

“I think timing is a huge part of it because East 70th Street/Youree Drive, Bert Kouns/Youree Drive -- all up and down Youree Drive -- is for the most part fully developed,” Wheless said, an associate broker at Sealy Real Estate Services who has worked for the company 27 years. “We knew our turn was coming. We just wanted to wait for the right user and right developer to come along. That’s what we got. It was a win-win for everybody and it does feel very good.”

Over the next two months other businesses will be revealed, according to Wheless. Whole Foods will open in about a year.

Zappi said the company will hire about 120 people. The Shreveport location will sell hundreds of locally made products.

Zappi and her colleagues held a community meeting yesterday to discuss details about the store’s design that will draw on the local flavors of Shreveport, including house-smoked barbecue and an artisan cheese display. A Whole Foods Market opened in Lafayette in September.