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Circle Food Store, Magnolia Marketplace to Curb NOLA’s Retail Shortage

28 Jan 2014, 5:47 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Circle Food Store

One of the most highly anticipated retail openings in the Crescent City is the return of the Circle Food Store in the Seventh Ward. The historic grocery market, first opened in 1938, was the city’s first African-American owned and operated grocery store, not only offering a retail option to the community but also becoming a neighborhood meeting hub. The historic market had suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Katrina and remained shuttered until recently, opening thanks to a comprehensive $8 million renovation.

The renovation project was designed by John C. Williams Architects and executed by general contractor the McDonnel Group. Financing was assembled from a $2.2 million Historic Tax Credit, along with $2.2 million in New Market Tax equity, $1.7 million from First NBC Bank, a $1 million “PROP” loan from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, a $100,000 Economic Development Fund grant from the city, as well as a $1 million Fresh Food Retailer Initiative loan, of which $500,000 is forgivable. The Berger Co. advised store owner Dwayne Boudreaux throughout the financing assembly process, while the city helped out in the permitting, recruiting, hiring and training process. The store now employs 65 people, 95 percent of which are New Orleanais.

Groundbreaking at Magnolia Marketplace

Located at the intersection of South Claiborne Avenue and Toledano Street in Central City, the $24.4 million Magnolia Marketplace is also a much anticipated retail project, especially for the underserved Central City neighborhood. The 106,000-square-foot project, helmed by Stirling Properties and developed in a joint venture with JCH Development, will rise on a six-acre special economic development district, governed by the New Orleans City Council, which approved it in October 2013. Serving exclusively Magnolia Marketplace, the district levies a special 1 percent sales tax that will finance as much as $2.3 million in select extraordinary flood elevation, public infrastructure and financing costs. Development will create approximately 344 construction jobs and 217 permanent positions upon completion.

The project’s first phase, totaling 6,000 square feet, is complete with a Capital One Bank location operational on site. Tenants such as T-Mobile and Subway are slated for an early 2014 opening, while major-footprint tenants such as T.J. Maxx, Ross Dress For Less, PetSmart, Shoe Carnival and Raising Cane’s are scheduled to open in spring 2015. (Details on Magnolia Marketplace available here.)

Photos courtesy of the New Orleans Mayor’s Office



Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel Sold for $116M, While Royal St. Charles Goes for $10M

14 Jan 2014, 3:37 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel

Two French Quarter hotels have been traded since 2014 kicked off, showing how sizzling hot the New Orleans hospitality market is.

According to Canal Street Beat, Starwood Capital Group shelled out $116.6 million for the 693-key Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel. The property was acquired from LNR Partners, special servicer for its $73.4 million CMBS loan from 2005. The property, appraised at of $108 million roughly six months ago, spent some time on the market in 2013 but was withdrawn after no buyers emerged. Prior to being put up for sale again, the asset was renovated. The property, currently operated by Intercontinental Hotels Group on a short-term lease, used to be made up of two distinct hotels: the 191-room Alexa tower, built in 1900 and redeveloped in 2002, and the 502-key Astor Crowne Plaza, developed in 2002 by Decatur Hotels, a previous owner of both assets.

Located on the corner of Bourbon and Canal streets, the 693-key hotel is right in the heart of the French Quarter, a highly desirable location. It boasts 12,000 square feet of grade-level retail space and 32,000 square feet of meeting space in 13 meeting rooms, with the Astor Ballroom offering 5,733 square feet. Further amenities include a fitness center, outdoor pool, business center, 24-hour lounge and onsite restaurant: the Dickie Brennan-run Bourbon House Restaurant.

In other hospitality news, the 143-key Royal St. Charles has also been sold, picked up by Lowe Enterprises Investors (LEI) on behalf of an investment client.  The property was put under the management of Destination Hotels & Resorts, but will continue to operate as an independent boutique hotel. According to Canal Street Beat, the property was acquired from California-based investment group Clearview Capital for $10.1 million, a price that included the assumption of an $8.7 million loan from U.S. Bank.

Located at 135 St. Charles St., between the French Quarter and the New Orleans Convention Center, the 10-story hotel was previously the Southern Federal Savings Bank. According to a news release, the hotel was converted from office to hotel in 2000, but its original bank vault was kept intact. The Royal St. Charles most recently underwent a renovation in 2012, when 2,610 square feet of meeting space, a fitness center as well as an award-winning PJ’s Coffee & Café were added.  Other amenities include a fitness center, valet parking and easy access to the St. Charles Streetcar Line.

Image courtesy of Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel – New Orleans via Facebook



Walker & Dunlop Arranges $43.5M Financing for Esplanade at City Park

30 Dec 2013, 6:44 am

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor

Walker & Dunlop Inc. recently announced it provided $43.5 million for Esplanade at City Park, an apartment community located in New Orleans.

The 10-year, five-year interest-only acquisition loan was structured by Walker & Dunlop Senior Vice President Stephen Farnsworth through German American Capital Corp. for longtime borrower Priderock Capital Partners.

Commenting on the financing, Farnsworth said in a statement: “This financing is indicative of the recent growth of the CMBS market nationwide, resulting in Walker & Dunlop’s ability to structure loans with higher interest-only periods for borrowers. The transaction also demonstrates the continued development of the multifamily market in New Orleans and the increased demand for out-of-state institutional equity. As a native New Orleans resident, I am proud to have contributed to financing Esplanade at City Park, one of the most iconic apartment communities in the city.”

Located in the picturesque Mid-City area of New Orleans at 3443 Esplanade Ave., the Esplanade at City Park was built in 1973 and renovated between 2008 and 2010.The property offers 436 residential units and four commercial spaces. With floor plans ranging from 510-square-foot studios to 1,485-square-foot three-bedroom apartments, prices range from $995 to $2,555. The building features a prominent seven-story façade facing the scenic Bayou St. John waterway and overlooks the historic City Park. The property also benefits from being close to the new medical district, which includes the new Veterans Affairs facility and University Medical Center.

Esplanade at City Park features numerous amenities, including covered parking, a movie theater, a gaming room, a fitness center, a yoga/pilates room and a cabana room.



Stirling Properties Announces New Tenants, Expansions at Metro NOLA Developments

16 Dec 2013, 9:38 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Joint venture partners Stirling Properties and CBL & Associates Properties Inc. have announced four new tenants for Phase I of Fremaux Town Center in Slidell. Verizon Wireless, Mattress Direct, LA Nails Spa and Anna’s Linens will be joining Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, T.J. Maxx and Michaels at the 350,000-square-foot Phase I. According to a press release, construction on the Fremaux’s first phase is on schedule, with the retail hub expected to open in March 2014.

The joint venture recently sold 1.13 acres at the Fremaux site to Panera Bread’s owners at a rate of $19 per square foot.  Panera’s Fremaux location is expected to open in April 2013.

As previously reported by Commercial Property Executive, the Fremaux Town Center is being developed by national retail REIT CBL & Associates Properties and Covington, La.-based Stirling Properties in a 65/35 joint venture. The 80-acre development along I-10 will consist of a 330,000-square-foot first phase opening in March 2014 and a 320,000-square-foot Phase II set for a spring 2015 opening.

Stirling Properties also announced a 9,000-square-foot expansion for the River Chase Shopping Center. The expansion, which has already broken ground, will consist of a two-tenant building, set to open in summer 2014. Tenants include regional luxury spa and salon services operator Bellagio Salon Spa and national specialty retailer Men’s Warehouse, which will expand to 5,000 square feet from its current 1,400-square-foot footprint at River Chase.

Located in Covington, River Chase Shopping Center is a multi-phase mixed-use development on a 253-acre site.  Initially known as Stirling Covington, Phase I opened in 2004 as a shopping center anchored by Target, Belk Department Store and Regal Cinemas. It has now become a master-planned mixed-use development featuring retail, entertainment and a 240-unit multifamily development. Further retail expansion is expected, as well as a 96-key Holiday Inn Express set for a February 2014 opening. In addition, 600,000 square feet of Class A office space is in the works, with a 157,400-square-foot office building expected for a spring 2014 delivery.

Image credits: River-Chase.com



Columbia Residential Opens $24M Luxury Seniors Housing

10 Dec 2013, 9:54 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Heritage Senior Residences at Columbia Parc, one of the most highly anticipated projects in New Orleans, has celebrated its grand opening in Gentilly, with the first residents expected to move in starting March 2014.

Located within the Columbia Parc at the Bayou District master-planned community, the 120-unit luxury senior residence boasts community amenities such as a 30-seat movie theater, fully equipped fitness center complete with Wii room, community room kitchen, dining and dance hall, resident’s business center complete with computers and printers, craft room, interior mail room, on-site maintenance, management and leasing office, access controlled parking, garden patio surrounding a porte cochere as well as elevators. The LEED Platinum-certified community features rooftop solar panels, among several sustainable elements.

The 1401 Caton St. project comprises one- and two-bedroom apartments outfitted with energy efficient stainless steel appliances, Energy Star washer and dryer and granite countertops. The senior living community is located on public transport routes and will be within walking distance of a community park as well as a retail area.  Residents must be 62 and older.

The senior living community as well as the entire Columbia Parc at the Bayou District project is owned and managed by Atlanta-based Columbia Residential and its subsidiary Columbia Residential Management, a developer, owner and manager of quality affordable and mixed-income housing that often engages local authorities and not-for-profits when creating new communities. According to WWL-TV.com, the senior housing project had a price-tag of $24 million. According to the Times-Picayune, the tenant mix for Heritage Senior Residences, as well as the entire master-planned community, includes market-rate, affordable, low-income and public housing tenants.

Columbia Parc at the Bayou District is being developed on the former site of the Katrina-marred St. Bernard public housing project, by the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), local non-profit Bayou District, Atlanta-based non-profit consulting firm Purpose Built Communities and Columbia Residential.

According to The Times-Picayune, the goal of the project is to create a cradle-to-college community, which, upon completion will feature 1,325 mixed-income residences, 300 of which will be owned by residents, K-8 school, preparatory high school, YMCA, library, health clinic, grocery store, city-park, resort-style pool, splash park. A learning center and NFL-quality football stadium have already been completed, as have 685 rental units, 80 percent of which are leased by single mothers – one of the main reasons for the heavy emphasis one education within the development. Ground was broken in 2009 and the $440 million project is expected to complete in 2016.

Photos courtesy of Columbia Parc via Facebook







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