The iconic Seventh Ward landmark Circle Food Store was sold Thursday (April 25) for $1.7 million at an Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office auction. Sidney Torres was one of the buyers.
The previously family-run grocery store located at 1522 St. Bernard Ave. closed last year after being in business since the 1930s. It was one of the oldest African American-owned grocery stores in the country.
The 22,000 square-foot grocery store reopened in 2014 after undergoing an $8 million renovation funded by a combination of loans and tax credits, including $1 million through the Fresh Food Retailer Initiative, a $1.7 million loan from First NBC Bank, and $4.4 million in tax credit equity.
The previous owner, Dwayne Boudreaux Jr. had been seeking bankruptcy protection, but the case was dismissed. Reports say that he had also filed suit against two family members who he accused of taking money from the store.
“There’s nothing else I can do now,” Boudreaux told The Advocate. “I’m all out of tricks.”
Sidney Torres is the controversial real estate mogul who hosts CNBC’s The Deed. He gained national attention for founding and funding the French Quarter Task Force, which sends armed, off-duty police officers to patrol the French Quarter, in March of 2015. While the force was originally self-funded, Torres turned over funding responsibilities to the City of New Orleans in a cooperative endeavor agreement in July of 2015.
The only other bidder on the property was the current debt-holder. Bidding began at $1.5 million and went through several back-and-forth bids until Torres’ offer of $1.7 million.
Before today’s auction, Torres said that he plans to keep the building as a grocery.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.