By Macie Batson, Mid-City Messenger
A new building planned for a prominent Mid-City corner will include a healthy choice for juice enthusiasts. Main Squeeze Juice Co., a fast-casual juice and smoothie bar, plans to open its doors in the fall of 2023 on South Carrollton Avenue and Canal Street.
Local developer Vincent Marcello owns the corner parcel that includes the empty lot with the Mid-City sculpture by Madeleine Faust. That parcel also includes the buildings that house Theo’s Pizza, Woodhouse Day Spa, a counseling center and Juan’s Flying Burrito
Marcello said he bought the nearly 30,000-square-foot parcel in 2000 to save its four historic buildings from demolition and quash plans for a service station on the corner.
Marcello expressed excitement at the execution of his long-awaited plan for the 4,300-square-foot sliver of green space.
“The lot at the corner of Canal and Carrollton has been sitting for 20 years, awaiting the opportunity to be developed into a flourishing business that can positively impact one of the busiest intersections in Mid-City,” Marcello said.
Main Squeeze will be the primary tenant of the building on the first floor, Marcello said, and the second floor will be occupied by law offices.
The project needed a variance for insufficient side-yard setback on the trapezoid-shaped lot. Going against the staff planners’ recommendation, the Board of Zoning Adjustments approved the variance at its November meeting, giving the project the green light to move forward.
Edward Young, Marcello’s partner in the project, said at the Board of Zoning Adjustments hearing that he believes the building will enhance the historic characteristics of the neighborhood and increase the commercial density.
“We are trying to do something that’s exciting in Mid-City,” Young said. “We’ve been trying to do it for 20 years.” Building designers Maple Ridge Architects have worked to maintain the aesthetic of the neighborhood, he said.
The development has attracted opposition from neighbors. Some stated the building is too large for the lot and will increase the demand for parking in the neighborhood.
In an email to the BZA opposing the project, Alida Zollinger Olson, president of St. John Lutheran Church and School on Canal Street, said the building is oversized and needs additional off-street parking.
Michael Bettencourt, who lives nearby, also told the BZA in an email he is concerned about the additional businesses worsening the “already intolerable” parking situation in the area. Residents, including parents with young children and seniors, are already forced to park far from their home, he said.
“Please consider the quality of life of my neighbors and I in making your decision on these requests. We will have to suffer the burdens of your wrong decisions,” Bettencourt told the Board of Zoning Adjustments.
Marcello stated that the parking concerns were never brought to his attention and that none of the meetings addressed the objections. No one spoke in opposition to the project during the BZA hearing, and a report on a Neighborhood Participation Project meeting in May states that no neighbors voiced concerns.
A parking lot next to the property — shared with Juan’s, Theo’s and the other businesses — has 27 spaces. “We actually wanted to gain four more spots on the street, and we requested some other additional spots,” Marcello said, “but we will have adequate parking for the project.”
The Department of Safety & Permits determined in September, city records show, that “they [the developers] appear to be able to accommodate the required parking for the development.”
Main Squeeze, a New Orleans-based juice company, was founded in 2016 and began franchising in August 2017. According to the Main Squeeze website, the company, with the mission of “making healthy easier,” currently has over 60 locations across Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Florida.
According to its website, the company’s menu is designed by nutritionists, and its “superfood-centric” options live up to their mission by providing a daily amount of plant-based nutrition.
The business will be managed by Main Squeeze Juice Co. franchisees Emmanuel and LaTonya Fitch.
“We have just been overjoyed with the possibilities of bringing this location to the community,” LaTonya Fitch said at the BZA hearing. “I have been born and raised in the Mid-City area, so being able to open a location and be ingrained in the fabric of the community would be an honor for the both of us.”
Macie Batson is a journalism student at Loyola University and a reporting intern at NOLA Messenger. She can be reached at email@example.com..