A nearly $3 million remodeling of the Drusilla Village Shopping Center is nearing completion, just in time for the opening of the new LeBlanc’s Frais Marche grocery store that will be one of the anchors of the center.
LeBlanc’s will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday. This is the ninth store for LeBlanc’s and its first location in Baton Rouge proper. The family-owned chain from Ascension Parish has been in the grocery business for more than a century. The company has two stores in Gonzales, and one each in Prairieville, Zachary, Donaldsonville, Plaquemine, Plattenville and Hammond.
LeBlanc’s spent about $3 million to expand a 19,000-square-foot space that had been the home of a Hi Nabor store, boosting it up to just under 30,000 square feet and adding amenities such as a deli selling fresh-baked pizzas, an olive bar and fresh-ground peanut butter. Hi Nabor relocated its store to the Broadmoor Village Shopping Center in November.
“We’re pretty excited that LeBlanc’s is coming in; they should be a big boon to everybody,” said Alex Knight, of Donnie Jarreau Real Estate. Knight brokered the April 2014 sale of the shopping center to a group of investors led by Jarreau. The 140,000-square-foot center at Jefferson Highway and Drusilla Lane sold for nearly $10.5 million.
The remodeling of the center is “pretty close to being done,” he said. The work involved putting a new façade on the building, updating signs, improving the parking lot and installing awnings.
“We still have some other work, but that’s in the back of the house, like the rear service drive behind the grocery store,” Knight said. Some buildout for tenants still has to be done.
The center, which was built in the early 1970s, is about 90 percent leased by tenants such as Hancock Fabrics, Drusilla Seafood and Chase Bank.
Marketing Drusilla Village for new tenants was put on hold until the renovations could be completed and LeBlanc’s opened, Knight said. Now that those things are done, talks are underway with potential tenants.
Knight said he’s had “pretty intense talks” with one undisclosed group and expects to sign a lease with them in the next two weeks.
“We’ve got some small shops, with maybe 1,200 to 2,300 square feet,” he said. Some of those vacant spaces could be combined to make room for a 4,000-square-foot tenant.
Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.