Monday, November 22, 2010

Making Groceries: Boulevard vs. Lakeview

Commentators over at Flagpole have been unexpectedly against opening up a neighborhood grocery in the Boulevard area. Those folks seem to think the proposal includes dropping a 40,000 square foot Kroger with 100 parking spaces out front, and they're panicked that it will increase traffic in their neighborhood when the idea is to increase walkability. There's apparently some confusion as to how such a grocery would help increase bicycle access to the city, but that's another topic for another time.

Hell, one commentator is terribly upset that I've commented on the issue because I no longer live in Athens.

Keep that in mind when you read about how important a grocery store on Harrison Avenue was to the Lakeview nieghborhood of New Orleans.

Of course, there is very little to compare Boulevard in Athens - a hip and historic in-town neighborhood, to Lakeview in New Orleans - a neighborhood coming back from the brink of catastrophe. Lakeview residents didn't have any grocery stores nearby, accessible even by car, for several years.

But options have opened up for Lakeview recently, with the Robert's market and the Rouse's at Mid-City. Though both required getting in the car and making an inconvenient drive. One point of note is that, it takes roughly the same time in a car to get from Boulevard to their surrounding full-service groceries (though they have many more options).

Again, the priority for New Orleans' neighborhoods is to have somewhere close by:

"The fresh produce is a big draw, but there are a lot of prepared foods that make it easy on people if they don't want to cook," she said. "And I think they're trying hard with that little cafe to make the store a neighborhood meeting place, where people can relax and visit with each other."

The "cafe" is Harrison Cove, a small restaurant with outdoor tables at the Memphis Street end of the store. It has a separate entry from the main store, in case a shopper just wants a sandwich and drinks instead of rotisserie chickens, bakery goods, wines and food staples.

But who wants a convenient grocery and cafe that they can walk to in their own neighborhood? Not a lot of the folks dropping comments at Flagpole, that's for sure. Luckily, the way Athens has trended (at least since I got to know the place in 1996) towards more walkable neighborhoods, more pedestrian and bike-friendliness, and more progressive urban ideas, it is obvious that the Flagpole commentariat is not representative of the whole.



Leigh C. said...

Lakeview folks could also go over the canal to Metairie and head to Dorignac's and the other grocery across Veterans. Sure, the 'hood got hit by a breach as hard as the Lower Nine did - but there have been significant differences in the recovery of those two areas.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

The situation with the Upper and Lower 9 not having access to any full-service grocery options is a different case altogether. There aren't many ways to compare redevelopment options in the 9th to development options in Athens, Georgia.

There is a way to compare the Boulevard neighborhood in Athens to Lakeview in New Orleans, however.