The deal to convert an aging Gretna shopping center into what is widely presumed to be a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is moving forward, with the land sold and a $7.6 million construction contract signed with a north shore contractor.
The identity of the store that dares not speak its name has been referred to by city officials as “the worst kept secret in Gretna,” but planning documents on file with the city do not include the retailer’s name, and the project’s Ohio-based developer has said it cannot disclose the identity of Grocery Store & Fuel Station #5102.
The project is slated for the shopping center at 113 West Bank Expressway — the former home of a bowling alley and Pho Tau Bay restaurant — between Evergreen Drive and the Gov. Hall Street canal.
On Tuesday, attorney Roy Gattuso confirmed that the deal has closed, though he would not provide any additional details and documents have not been processed at the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.
That follows the Friday filing of a $7.6 million construction contract between Columbus, Ohio-based Skilken and DonahueFavret Contractors Inc. of Mandeville, which will build the store on 5 acres at the back of the site, with a gas station closer to the street.
The 42,311-square-foot building will replace the buildings now there. There will be landscaping along both edges and a berm along the back to cut off the view of the store from the neighborhoods behind it.
Skilken President Frank Petruziello, who did not return a call for comment Tuesday, said after a Gretna City Council meeting in October that construction would take about nine months.
Joe Marino, the councilman whose district includes the project, said he expects work to begin fairly quickly now that the deal is done.
The council approved the site plan last year over the objections of some residents behind the property who were worried about increased traffic through the site’s back entrance.
Marino said Tuesday that the city will benefit greatly from the additional sales tax revenue the property will generate, and he praised Skilken’s plans to heavily landscape the development.
“It’s going to have more green than it ever had,” he said, noting the property most recently was characterized by multiple layers of cracked asphalt.
Gretna lost its only major grocery when the Casey Jones Supermarket closed last year, though a new Rouses Supermarket opened within months.
Marino said that with a second major grocery coming, not to mention the three-hotel and retail development going up down the street, the city will see a much-needed boost in revenue.
“When you’re trying to generate funding for city services, you’re not going to raise enough money from property taxes,” he said. “Something like a grocery store — and a nationally known, successful grocery store — will be a big boost for our sales taxes, and we’re excited.”
Editor’s note: This story was changed on April 17, 2015 to clarify Roy Gattuso’s relationship with the sale of the property.
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