Trader Joe’s, the California-based grocery store chain that has built a devoted following with its eclectic, low-cost fare, is coming to Metairie.
The company announced Wednesday that it has signed a lease for its first New Orleans-area store on the so-called Tolmas Tract, the largest swath of undeveloped property on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
The 10,200-square-foot store is scheduled to open in the second half of 2016, according to a news release.
It will be Trader Joe’s second Louisiana location. The company opened a store in Baton Rouge in 2013 — incidentally proving that you could at least occasionally get some New Orleanians to drive more than an hour for groceries.
Trader Joe’s is known for its low prices and vast selection, much of it under the chain’s private label. The company bills itself as offering “everyday prices” and eschewing sales, promotions and discount cards.
The path was cleared for the vacant site to become a grocery when an agreement was struck last summer between neighboring residents and the development company that bought the Tolmas Tract property in 2004.
The deal ended a bitter 50-year dispute over what to do with the land, which fronts on Veterans Memorial Boulevard and is bounded by 22nd Street, North Labarre Road and Tolmas Drive.
Since the 1960s, nearby residents had argued that the Tolmas Tract should be divided into residential lots. Developers pushed for commercial projects and sued to have the property zoned for commercial use, but that attempt failed.
Finally, in July 2014, the Whitney-Cecile Home Owners and Improvements Association and Morning Park LLC agreed that part of the site could be used for a commercial building as long as it was flanked on two sides by five homes as a way to shield the neighborhood from commercial intrusion. Those homes are now under construction.
“It’s been a long time,” said Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, whose district includes the site and who helped to broker the 2014 deal. “The fact that this was a decades-long zoning battle between the neighborhood and the developer and they were able to come to some agreement without litigation is a huge win for Jefferson Parish. It’s the cherry on top to get Trader Joe’s on that property after this long battle.”