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Starbucks breaks ground in Ferguson; new store is part of new concept

(Maria Altman|St. Louis Public Radio)
The location at 10768 W. Florissant Ave. is one of 15 Starbucks is putting in low to mid-income neighborhoods over the next two years.

When the Starbucks in Ferguson opens in the spring, it will be more than a new coffee place.

Getting a Starbucks is a big deal for the small city that saw several businesses go up in flames in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death in 2014.

"There’s probably that belief in some people’s minds that people would be hesitant to make an investment along West Florissant or an investment in north county," said Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. "The fact that Starbucks has stepped up to do that, we’re very excited and very appreciative."

The store at 10768 W. Florissant Ave. is one of 15 new locations Starbucks is planning nationally in low- to mid-income neighborhoods over the next two years. Rodney Hines, Starbucks director of community investments and operations, said they will hire locally and work with non-profit organizations to provide workforce training for youth.

"Our intent is that we can help strengthen communities as we drive our business and other businesses further," Hines said.

Credit (Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio)
Cordell Lewis (far left) leads a coffee tasting at the groundbreaking. The north county resident is the store manager of the new location.

The new store will also offer caramel cakes by the Ferguson-based business Natalie’s Cakes and More. Owner Natalie DuBose first partnered with Starbucks last summer, launching her cakes in five locations in the St. Louis area. Now she said they’re in 12 locations, and her staff of three has grown to 13.

DuBose said the new Starbucks in Ferguson will help ensure that hope stays in the community.

"We went through a lot and a lot of us we’re hopeful that things would get better, and I think Starbucks is standing behind the fact that it will get better," she said.

The Ferguson location already has a manager. Cordell Lewis has lived in the Ferguson area for a little more than a decade. He said he’ll hire at least 30 employees, and all will be from the area.

Credit Mapbox, OpenStreetMap
Location of the Starbucks now under construction in Ferguson.

  "This is a great community," Lewis said. "There is a lot of opportunity for businesses to come in and grow."

In fact, Knowles said, two more businesses are planned near Starbucks. He said those announcements will be made in coming months.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.