The largest rural lifestyle retail store in the U.S. will be opening a location in St. Bernard Parish later this fall thanks in part to the efforts of the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation and the St. Bernard Economic Development Foundation (SBEDF).
Developers have begun construction of a new 19,097 square foot Tractor Supply store at 2505 Archbishop Hannan Blvd. in Meraux. The property was owned by the Meraux Foundation and identified as an ideal location for the new retail store through a site selection program managed by SBEDF.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tractor Supply to St. Bernard Parish,” said Meraux Foundation President Rita Gue. “This marks another major milestone in our effort to place properties into commerce to attract retailers that will help grow the parish economy by creating new jobs, generating tax revenue, and supporting local businesses.”
The new Meraux Tractor Supply store will employ 12-15 people and attract customers from across the region to spend in St. Bernard Parish.
Tractor Supply stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers, ranchers, and others who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses. The company specializes in equine, livestock, pet and small animal products; hardware, truck, towing and tool products; seasonal products, including heating, lawn and garden items, power equipment, gifts and toys; work/recreational clothing and footwear; and maintenance products for agricultural and rural use.
“Landing a Tractor Supply is a major victory for St. Bernard Parish,” said SBEDF Executive Director Andrew Jacques. “Our retail attraction strategy is designed to keep and generate more sales tax revenue in St. Bernard Parish, bring underutilized land into commerce, and ultimately, improve the quality of life for local residents. We are grateful to partner with the Meraux Foundation to promote the parish to national retailers and developers.”
Jacques and representatives from the Meraux Foundation recently returned from the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon, the world’s largest retail real estate convention, held late last month in Las Vegas. The conference gathered over 37,000 attendees from 58 countries, and the St. Bernard Parish delegation was there, showcasing the parish’s many attractive opportunities for retailers.
As part of the site selection program, the Meraux Foundation also had 285 acres, known as the Sinclair Tract, located at 3911 E. St. Bernard Hwy., certified by the Louisiana Department of Economic Development in March. This certification, officially acknowledging the site’s suitability and readiness for development, is the first in St. Bernard Parish.
“We are working hand-in-hand with retail experts, economic development officials, land use professionals, developers, and environmentalists to be smart about how we’re managing our properties. We are focusing on development opportunities that will create jobs, strengthen the local economy, and improve the quality of life,” said Gue.
In addition to the customary functions of foundations, the Meraux Foundation manages, maintains, and preserves extensive and diverse properties. Each type of land poses complex and often delicate challenges in its preservation, protection, and use, but the Foundation aims to maximize both short- and long-term benefits for the community and ecosystem. The Meraux Foundation intends to preserve natural environments while pushing St. Bernard Parish ahead by using smart-growth and sustainable development principles.
The Meraux Foundation’s efforts include helping attract and leasing property to Walmart for its Supercenter at 8101 W. Judge Perez Dr. in Chalmette and amassing a two-block stretch of properties on St. Claude Ave. in Arabi to help create the arts campus Studio Arabi.
Revenue generated from Meraux Foundation real estate is invested back into the private nonprofit organization’s charitable initiatives, including an annual program through which more than 720 St. Bernard Parish students have received scholarships.
In addition to leveraging its landholdings as an economic driver and for environmental integrity, the Meraux Foundation donates land for public need, including plots for the hospital, a sheriff’s substation, a wetland observatory, and the soon-to-open Arlene Meraux Elementary School on Paris Road.
“We have a very positive outlook for the parish. The addition of Tractor Supply is yet another clear signal that St. Bernard Parish is on the rise,” said Gue.