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$35M Warehouse District Hotel Sparks Local Opposition

12 Jul 2014, 5:06 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

A new 75-foot hotel proposed in the Crescent City’s Warehouse District is heating up talks regarding the city’s master plan and height limitations.  The project, proposed by Ohio-based Filmore Hospitality, envisions a two-building, 178-key Cambria Suites hotel, complete with a meeting room and restaurant, for an L-shaped tract on the 600 block of Tchoupitoulas Street, reports The New Orleans Advocate. The site, comprising 10 lots, is currently a surface parking lot but is owned by hotelier Warren Reuther, who’s got a sales contract in place with Filmore for the site. Filmore’s project – boasting an 85-foot height at the time – was voted down by the City Planning Commission due to concerns regarding traffic, height and disrupting the historic character of the neighborhood. The area height limitation is 65 feet and five stories, while Filmore’s hotel, somewhat downsized from its initial 85 feet, would rise six stories high, with a 75-foot height at its Commerce Street entrance and a 65-foot height on the side fronting Tchoupitoulas Street.

Granaio Lofts

The site is in Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s district; she recently rejected the proposed $20 million luxury apartment project Granaio due to similar concerns, reports Canal Street Beat. The project, helmed by local real estate developer Josh Bruno, envisioned an 18-story apartment project with a two-story penthouse on top. Designed by local architect Wayne Troyer of Studio WTA, it would have included amenities such as a pool, outdoor balconies, private parking, Crestoron technology to control energy usage, lighting, heating, cooling and floodwater management, and a green living bio wall. Interiors would have been signed by Philippe Starck, with internationally awarded urban landscape designer Raymond Jungles also contributing to the project.

The New Orleans City Council is now expected to make a decision regarding the Cambria Suites hotel. Several locals, organized as the group Residents for Responsible Development, have organized a rally to oppose the $35 million project, reported The Times Picayune.

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Image courtesy of Granaio Lofts via Facebook 

Archdiocese of New Orleans Expands Seniors Housing Network

29 Jun 2014, 3:39 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Rouquette IV

Cristopher Homes Inc. has cleared another road stop on the way to building a new seniors housing community in Slidell.  According to The Times-Picayune, the Slidell City Council annexed a 12-acre site fronting US 190/Gause Boulevard West to Slidell city limits and changed the zoning from highway commercial (HC2-2) to high-density urban (A-8). The developers plan to enlarge the water line servicing the site, which could help Slidell with future annexations in the area.

According to The Times-Picayune, the 75-unit senior living complex will take up three acres of the site, leaving the remaining nine acres of wetlands untouched. The Archdiocese of New Orleans will run the housing complex upon completion. Developers have been pursuing the annexation for two years.

Developer Cristopher Homes is a subsidiary of the Archdiocese and has developed a bevy of housing projects, several of which are multi-phase. Cristopher Homes, which describes itself as a provider of “affordable housing for seniors and low-income families for more than 40 years,” is the premier manager of affordable seniors housing in the Gulf Area. Prior to Katrina, the Archdiocese’s housing agency managed 25 properties with more than 2,500 HUD-subsidized seniors housing units and a 200-unit HUD-subsidized family housing facility. According to its website, Cristopher Homes now manages 16 apartment complexes totaling 1,953 units and houses elderly and special needs adults.

Among the holdings of Cristopher Homes and the Archdiocese of New Orleans is the 66-unit Rouquette IV seniors housing facility in Mandeville, La. Expected to open this year and designed by Holly & Smith Architects, the new three-story facility is set to replace a building in St. Bernard Parish that was demolished due to extensive damage suffered during Hurricane Katrina. The project received FEMA funding.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image credit: Holly & Smith Architects

55 KSF Former Nursing Home on Market in Trendy Bywater

20 Jun 2014, 11:41 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

If you were charmed by the assisted living center to high-end apartments redevelopment of St. Anna’s, here’s your chance to try your hand at a similar project. The four-story, 75-unit former St. Margaret’s Daughters nursing home/assisted living center has been listed on the market by Corporate Realty at the asking price of $1,985,000, or $26,466.67 per unit.

The 55,115-square-foot former nursing home was initially built as a hospital in the 1970s, but was converted to an assisted living center in 2007, after Hurricane Katrina. It sits on a 49,933-square-foot L-shaped tract bounded by St. Claude Avenue and Gallier, Marais and Desire streets. Floors three and four comprise 25 units each, as well as an activity room, staff lounge and office. The ground level housed exercise rooms, a beauty parlor, a kitchen and dining hall, a chapel, a laundry room, a lobby and support operations. The property had undergone renovations, except the second floor, which was not in use. The property also includes a paved parking area and a courtyard. The masonry-and-concrete building features a stucco exterior, painted sheetrock walls, a suspended tile ceiling and laminate-and-tile floor.

The property also includes a 5,322-square-foot unfinished penthouse, as well as a 471-square-foot electrical building and a 580-square-foot portable building, neither of which is included in the building’s area determination. The former hospital and nursing home is located in the trendy, up-and-coming Bywater neighborhood.

The former nursing home was recently vacated by St. Margaret’s Daughters Homes, as the organization moved to Mid-City, according to Curbed NOLA. In 2013, the assisted-living non-profit embarked on a $37 million renovation of the 115,000-square-foot former Lindy Boggs Medical Center in 2013 to a 112-bed nursing home that would focus on creating a communal, home-like atmosphere for residents and would be named St. Margaret’s at Mercy, reported The Times-Picayune at the time.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image via Google Maps 

After Nine Years, Walmart Reopens in New Orleans East

16 Jun 2014, 5:01 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The Crescent City recently celebrated another milestone in its rebirth, with the opening of New Orleans East Walmart on the former site of the Katrina-ravaged Lakeland Medical Center.  The newly opened Supercenter at 6000 Bullard Ave. marks the return of the big-box retailer to Eastern New Orleans after nine years of absence, brought on by the 2005 destruction of the previous Eastern New Orleans store at 6901 Bundy Road.

According to nolaeast.com, at 177,000 square feet, the newly opened retail center features one of the largest store sizes in the Walmart construction program. It sells groceries and general merchandise and also features a pharmacy. The new store has created more than 400 full- and part-time jobs, 300 of which are new employment while the rest are transfers from other stores. Twenty-five of the New Orleans East Walmart associates were among the employees of the destroyed Bundy Road facility. Around 65 percent of the new jobs will be filled by New Orleans East residents, Mayor Mitch Landrieu declared at the store’s grand opening.

“The opening of this new Walmart not only gives the residents of District E the convenience of shopping nearby, it allows the city of New Orleans to capture sales taxes on the millions that will be spent here every year — tax money that can be used to replace street lights and pave roads,” said District E Councilmember James Gray II. He added that the retail giant acts “as a magnet for development,” with numerous businesses already expressing interest in opening in the surrounding area.

“The New Orleans East Walmart is yet another example of the retail boom we’re experiencing all across the city of New Orleans,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu commented, adding that “this is another step in rebuilding our city and restoring quality services in our neighborhoods.”

Even before purchasing the Bullard Road site, Walmart had promised to rebuild in New Orleans East, which was alarmingly underserved retail-wise. As previously reported, New Orleans East, home to around 70,000 residents — almost one-fifth of the city’s population — had remained without a retail center after Hurricane Katrina.

Walmart is also developing a new store in Gentilly, set to open later this year on the former site of the Gentilly Woods Shopping Center. Including the newly opened store, Walmart operates 18 locations in the greater New Orleans area.

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Image courtesy of Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Walmart Supercenter New Orleans via Facebook 

$8M Investment Revives Historic Covington Hotel

8 Jun 2014, 4:47 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The newly renovated Southern Hotel

The historic 42-key Southern Hotel in Covington has wrapped up an almost two-year renovation process and is open for business, reported The Times-Picayune. Purchased in 2011 by developers and owner-operators Lisa Condrey Ward, Joseph Ward, Ricky Condrey and Gayle Condrey for $1.79 million, the 1907-built hotel was approved for redevelopment by the Covington Historic District Commission in October 2012. It was also declared eligible for historic tax credits. According to an earlier report by The Times-Picayune, the hotel represents an $8 million investment.

As previously reported, the Mission-style hotel now features 42 guest rooms and amenities that include a 2,400-square-foot ballroom, meeting space, fitness rooms, spa, plunge pool, lush courtyard, water features and the Upscale Cypress Bar, complete with patio and fireplace.  A 2,480-square-foot, newly built restaurant is expected to open in mid-July. Named Ox Lot 9, the upscale eatery got its name from the previous use of the vacant site on which it was developed.  New Orleans-based Trapolin-Peer Architects was brought in to oversee the renovation of the property into a modern hotel without losing its historic character and features. The full-service hotel has created 27 new full- and part-time jobs.

Southern Hotel prior to renovation

Located 45 minutes from downtown New Orleans, the Southern Hotel initially opened in 1907 as a hotel, but the property had a multitude of uses throughout the years: sanitarium, retail, St. Tammany Parish offices and courtroom. It even served as the headquarters of various federal agencies and the Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It sat mostly vacant for the past several years.

For more New Orleans market data, click here.

Image courtesy of Southern Hotel via Facebook.

Former Assisted Living Center Becomes High-End Apartments

31 May 2014, 4:29 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

St. Anna’s, a 40,000-square-foot former assisted living center, is set to be redeveloped into high-end apartments, reports Canal Street Beat. Real estate investor and developer Tom Winingder is expected to break ground in June on the 1823 Prytania St. project and wrap up construction in approximately 10 months.

Upon completion, the still-to-be-named apartment complex will feature 23 units, 14 of which will be two-bedroom apartments. Six one-bedroom units and three three-bedroom residences will also join the floor plan mix. Units will range between 900 and 1,600 square feet in size. An outdoor garden will be paved over for additional off-street parking, bringing the number of parking spaces to 39, or one parking space per bedroom. The Lower Garden District community will rent units at above-market rates.

Local firm Palmisano Contractors will handle construction, while Studio WTA is the designated architect. Although the entire cost of the redevelopment has yet to be made public, part of the necessary financing will be secured through state and federal historic tax credits, due to the structure’s historic building status. Built in 1853, it initially served as St. Anna’s Asylum for the Relief of Destitute Females and Their Helpless Children of All Religion.

According to Canal Street Beat, Tom Wingdinger bought the three-story former assisted living center in November 2013 for $3.7 million from Lambeth House, a senior citizen community. The latter, which assumed control of the asset in 2011, operated a supportive living facility at the Prytania Street property with assisted living, nursing and memory care services. It transferred those services to Saint Anna’s at Lambeth House, a new facility it opened in November 2013.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image via Google Maps

$22M Rehab Facility Breaks Ground in New Orleans BioDistrict

24 May 2014, 3:29 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Cobalt Medical Development, a Dallas-based private healthcare real estate development and investment company, broke ground on a $22 million healthcare rehabilitation center in Mid-City, Canal Street Beat reported.

As previously reported, the private healthcare developer announced plans for the facility in early fall of 2013, targeting groundbreaking by fall 2014 at the latest. The 65,000-square-foot facility is being developed on Bienville Avenue, on a vacant site adjacent to the Lindy Boggs Medical Center. The state-of-the-art medical center will feature traumatic brain injury, concussion and Parkinson’s care, with 60 inpatient care beds. The facility will offer a variety of rehab services, with both inpatient and outpatient care programs. Named Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital of New Orleans, the two-story facility will feature hotel-like amenities.

According to Canal Street Beat, the first level will comprise the 16-bed traumatic brain injury rehab unit, an emergency room, a laboratory, an X-ray facility, a speech therapy unit, a full-service kitchen and a dining area, as well as management facilities such as administration offices, a materials management unit and a loading dock. The second story will comprise 44 inpatient beds, associated support facilities and the hospital pharmacy. The rehab center will also feature a covered trellis with ambulation course, while rooms will offer hotel-style amenities such as hotel-type safes and iPads. A number of patient rooms will feature couches.

The rehab center is expected to create 165 permanent jobs over the course of three years, consisting of medical and medical support staff, as well as facility maintenance and food service jobs. Development is projected to create 165 construction jobs.  Cobalt Rehabilitation Hospital of New Orleans is targeting a summer 2015 opening. The facility will be located right on the edge of the New Orleans BioDistrict, a 1,500-acre state-enabled biosciences economic development district.

Click here for additional New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Cobalt Medical Development

Nation’s Only Downtown Outlet Center Opens in New Orleans

19 May 2014, 2:33 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The Howard Hughes Corp.’s much anticipated The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is gearing up for its Memorial Day Weekend grand opening. Set to welcome shoppers from May 22, Riverwalk will be the only downtown outlet center in the U.S.

Announced in the summer of 2012, The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is the renovation and expansion of the former Riverwalk Marketplace shopping center at 500 Port of New Orleans. As previously reported, the project represents a $70 million investment that overhauled an aging mall that had not been updated since 1986. The redevelopment also added an extra 50,000 square feet of space, for a current total just short of 250,000 square feet. Estimates show that development created around 700 construction jobs. The new mall has also created several hundred new jobs.

In addition to the cosmetic aspects of the upgrade and expansion, redevelopment work was necessary to accommodate national retailers targeted by the developer.  The new tenant roster includes many local favorites and a bevy of well-known national retailers, several of which will be opening their first location in Louisiana. Among the outlet mall’s anchor tenants are Forever 21, Last Call Studio by Neiman Marcus, Coach Factory Store and Coach Men’s Factory Store. Further tenants include Café du Monde, Gap Outlet, Puma, Raising Cane’s, Kenneth Cole Company Store, Red Mango, Kay Jewelers, Hartstrings Childrenswear and many more. The tenant mix was planned to please both local customers and the steady stream of tourists that visit the Big Easy and congregate in the downtown area.

“Our redevelopment and repositioning of this symbolic riverfront property will deliver a distinct mix of retail and entertainment offerings unmatched in the region,” said Grant Herlitz, Howard Hughes’ president. “Beyond the impact of these compelling options for locals and visitors, we are pleased to be a part of the continued revitalization of New Orleans.”

The redevelopment of Riverwalk is also important in that it increases options in the city’s underserved retail market, which has 30 percent less retail surface per capita than the national average, due in great part to Hurricane Katrina –although the NOLA market already had retail shortages prior to the 2005 disaster.  City officials have been working constantly since Katrina to attract more retail to the city and re-establish the Big Easy as a shopping destination.  More retail options go beyond making shopping easier and more accessible to the general population; new stores help eliminate blight, spur neighborhood development, eliminate food deserts, bring much needed jobs and increase the city’s tax base. In the past two years, the city has experienced a veritable retail boom: Walgreens, Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco, H&M, Tiffany’s and Dillard’s are only some of the national retailers returning to the Big Easy or breaking into the market. Several local retail options – some of them with significant historic importance, such as the Circle Food Store – have also rebuilt. Even developments that were halted as a result of the Great Recession, such as Fremaux Town Center, have restarted development.

The only less-than-desirable impact of Riverwalk is that it stopped the redevelopment of the 150-acre hurricane-marred Six Flags amusement park. As previously reported, a joint venture formed by DAG Development and Provident Realty Advisors officially killed plans to redevelop the site into the 400,000-square-foot Jazzland Outlet Mall and entertainment boardwalk, claiming that the $40 million project  was made superfluous by the Howard Hughes project.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Images courtesy of The Howard Hughes Corp.

IndyCar Race Headed for NOLA

10 May 2014, 4:18 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

New Orleans will host a Verizon IndyCar Series race in 2015, IndyCar officials and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced, along with Laney Chouest, owner of NOLA Motorsport Park, the future venue of the popular event. Dubbed Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, the internationally televised event will be organized by Andretti Sports Marketing and will be part of the IndyCar Verizon Series Championship, which features the drivers and cars of the famed Indianapolis 500 race.

Set to take place in Avondale, 14 miles from downtown New Orleans, the race would be part of a three-day festival-style event that will include practice sessions, time trials, music, food, entertainment and a showcasing of New Orleans and Louisiana culture and entertainment, leading up to a Sunday race.  According to NOLA Motorsport Park estimates, the event can attract as many as 80,000 visitors over its three-day duration and have a direct economic impact north of $100 million over at least three years.

Pending state legislature approval, the state will provide a one-time contribution of $4.5 million for the motor park. The state contribution paired with a yet-to-be-disclosed private investment from the motor park will be used for facility and track improvements, although according to The Boston Herald, the venue is capable of handling an IndyCar race as is. Among the proposed changes at the 2.75-mile road course are a new pit entrance, a wider and longer pit lane, straightaway enhancements and perimeter fencing.

Designed by Alan Wilson, the $60 million NOLA Motorsport Park opened in 2011. The 750-acre venue is located south of the TPC Louisiana Golf Course in Avondale, Jefferson Parish.

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Image courtesy of NOLA Motorsport Park via Facebook.

New Orleans Investments Create Hundreds of New IT, Industrial Jobs

2 May 2014, 6:41 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

New Orleans recently realized a slew of investments worth tens of millions and several hundred new jobs. The investment will also boost the local real estate market, specifically the industrial sector.

Probably the most significant of these investments is TCI Plastics’ 500,000-square-foot logistics expansion at the Port of New Orleans.  Parent company Jensen Cos. announced that the $36.5 million investment will retain 200 existing jobs and create 160 new ones by 2020, with an average salary of $33,400 plus benefits. The project is also expected to generate 183 new indirect jobs, rounding up the total workforce impact to 343 new positions.

TCI will develop the new logistics facility near its existing France Road Wharf hub, within the mega-plastics district the company is creating at an inner harbor cargo site in Gentilly. To accommodate the new structure, as well as future expansions, TCI will spend $3.1 million to acquire 32 acres of land from the Port of New Orleans. TCI will also create a rail spur connecting its facility to the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, an investment that is expected to be offset by a performance-based Economic Development Award tax incentive package granted by the state of Louisiana. It is also expected to make use of Louisiana’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs. The project is planned for a mid-2014 groundbreaking and completion in the third quarter of 2016.

Also set for a mid-2014 groundbreaking is Agrico Sales’ new 56,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in eastern New Orleans. The $2 million facility will be a relocation and expansion of Agrico’s current manufacturing facility located in Bridge City, Jefferson Parish. The relocation will retain the company’s 35 current employees and add 25 new direct jobs, with average salaries of $40,000 plus benefits.  The project, set to wrap up by the end of the year, is expected to create an additional 421 indirect jobs, as well.

The Louisiana Governor’s Office also announced that 4th Source Inc. will relocate its corporate headquarters from Atlanta to metro New Orleans and establish a new technology and IT services facility in Kenner, La. By 2018, the relocation is projected to create 320 new jobs, with an average annual salary of $50,000 plus benefits, and 412 new indirect jobs.

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Image courtesy of Port of New Orleans via Facebook.

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