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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.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

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.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Port of New Orleans via Facebook.



$3M Senior Center to Replace Katrina-Marred Structure

25 Apr 2014, 4:57 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The city of New Orleans, in partnership with FEMA, has broken ground on the new Carrollton Hollygrove Senior Center at 3300 Hamilton St. in the Carrollton Hollygrove neighborhood, the New Orleans Mayor’s Office announced.  The $3 million center will replace the 1920s-built structure destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The 19,000-square-foot facility will be significantly larger than its 10,200-square-foot predecessor. It will feature a variety of senior day care activities and facilities such as a computer and library room, exercise facility, multipurpose venue for arts and crafts, conference room, commercial-grade kitchen, dining lounge and patio, doctor’s office, examination room and social services office. As with the old facility, the new center will be operated by the New Orleans Council on Aging.

“Carrollton Hollygrove was a vital part of the Carrollton-Hollygrove community before Katrina … as not just a senior center but a community focal point for information, education and services that benefited the entire community,” recalled Executive Director of the New Orleans Council on Aging Howard Rogers III.

Designed by In-Site Developments LLC, the new facility is being constructed by Wharton Smith Inc. with disadvantaged business enterprises Alternative Source Inc., Rufino’s Painting & Construction, Mackie One Construction, A&A Mechanical Inc. and Malone Electrical Service Inc. also involved in the development.

With FEMA having declared the previous structure substantially damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the facility became eligible for a 100 percent cost replacement. As such, FEMA will contribute a significant part of the funding for the new facility, while the rest of the funding, necessary due to increased size, will come from city bond funds.

The Carollton Hollygrove Senior Center is expected to be complete in spring 2015.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of the New Orleans Mayor’s Office.



HMC Nabs Management Contract for Slidell Wingate Inn

19 Apr 2014, 4:53 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Dallas-based Hospitality Management Corp. (HMC) has been appointed manager for the new 82-key Wingate Inn Slidell/New Orleans East.

Located in Slidell, just 30 minutes north of New Orleans, the 2013-built hotel is easily accessed from I-10, making it easy to reach local attractions such as the Infinity Science Center, Oak Harbor Golf Club and Fork Pike State Historic Site. It is also adjacent to Oschner Clinic and within walking distance of shopping and dining. Opened in January 2014, the hotel offers amenities such as a fitness center, an indoor heated pool, a spa tub, a business center, meeting and conference rooms, parking (including some that accommodates buses and RVs), a bar and lounge, a gift shop and laundry facilities. Rooms and suites offer complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs.

HMC also manages the Microtel Pearl River in Pearl River, also in the Greater New Orleans area, as well as two other Louisiana hotels: the Crowne Plaza Lafayette Airport in Lafayette and the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Gonzales in Gonzales, in the Baton Rouge metro.  The privately owned HMC is one of the oldest independent hotel management firms in the industry. HMC currently manages 24 hotels across the U.S.

In other news, Covington’s Southern Hotel and the city of Covington partnered for a job fair to fill the 27 positions available at the historic boutique hotel set to open in 2014. As previously reported, a group of local investors acquired the Southern Hotel in 2011, along with an adjacent tract, with plans to renovate and return the historic hotel to its original use. The 40-plus key full-service boutique hotel will boast luxury amenities such as a 2,400-square-foot ballroom, spa facilities and a pool.  The hotel will also be home to Ox Lot 9, a restaurant headed by famed chef Jeffrey Hansell.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Hospitality Management Corp.



Stirling Continues Walgreens Developments with 14 KSF Drug Store in Metairie

14 Apr 2014, 6:25 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Future Location of Metairie Walgreens

Stirling Properties has announced plans to develop a new full-service Walgreens drugstore in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie. Set to rise at the corner of Veterans and Power boulevards, the proposed drugstore will be built in the Barlon Plaza Shopping Center. The store will be a ground-up relocation of an existing Walgreens located within the shopping center.

The new location will be larger, offering 14,000 square feet of retail space, and will feature a full-service pharmacy and drive-through window. Set to break ground in July and be completed in the first quarter of 2015, the development is expected to contribute to the revitalization of Barlon Plaza and the retail corridor where it is located.

Stirling Properties will provide pre-development services such as lease negotiation, permitting, financing, design, and project and construction management.

Ribboncutting at Terrytown Walgreens

Stirling is the preferred developer for the Walgreen Co. in the Gulf South and has developed multiple Walgreens locations throughout the region. This includes the recently opened full-service Walgreens drug store in Terrytown on the Westbank of New Orleans. The store, which opened in late March, is located on the corner of Terry Parkway and Carol Sue Avenue on the site of the former shopping center anchored by A&P Grocery/Eckerd Drug. As previously reported, the 17,384-square-foot store broke ground in April 2013 and is expected to revitalize this retail corridor, as well.

Stirling also handled the full conversion of the historic former Ed Brauner American Legion Post #307 to a 13,000-square-foot Walgreens marquee store (details here), which opened  a little over a year ago.

Click here for further market data.

Images courtesy of Stirling Properties



Stirling Properties Acquires 256-Unit Luxury Apartment Complex

7 Apr 2014, 2:01 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Stirling Properties has announced the acquisition of Ansley Place, a 246-unit luxury apartment community in Houma, La. Buyer Stirling Communities II L.L.C., a group of investors led by Stirling Properties, closed on the purchase of  the Class A community for an undisclosed amount. The deal included the assumption of an existing HUD 223 (f) loan on the property. The acquisition of Ansley Place has brought the ownership group’s overall portfolio to 1,042 units, all of which are managed by Des Moines-based BH Management Services L.L.C.

Sprawling across 21 acres, the garden-style luxury community comprises 13 two- and three-story apartment buildings, a one-story leasing office and four single-story garage facilities. Amenities include a resort-style swimming pool, fitness center, clubhouse, cyber café, car care center and extra storage. The gated community offers one-, two- and three-bedroom units, ranging from 643 to 1,287 square feet and featuring private patios or balconies, sunrooms and oversize closets.

Stirling Properties officials expect a substantial increase in Houma’s and the surrounding area’s populations over the next few years due to a significant uptick in activity at Port Fourchon, the shipyards of Edison Chouest and Bollinger, as well as expansion projects among important service firms in the Houma area.

“With its excellent location, superior floor plans and premier status in the market, Ansley Place offers our investors a high-quality asset located directly in the path of Houma’s growing economy,” commented Justin Landry, head of multi-family asset management for Stirling Properties.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Ansley Place via Facebook



City Breaks Ground on $9M Lafitte Greenway

1 Apr 2014, 1:30 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The Lafitte Greenway Bicycle and Pedestrian Path, a 2.6-mile multi-use trail and linear park, is now underway, according to the city of New Orleans. The highly anticipated $9.1 million development–bounded by Basin, Lafitte, St. Louis and North Alexander streets–will reclaim for public use an abandoned industrial railway corridor located on the site of the Carondelet Canal, which once provided ships with access to the French Quarter. Development is expected to last 11 months, with a spring 2015 grand opening.

The Lafitte Greenway will connect six historic neighborhoods from the French Quarter to Mid-City and Bayou St. John. The project includes more than 500 trees, rain gardens, native landscaping, crushed stone walking paths, environmental remediation, curb enhancements,  crosswalks, new recreation fields, a 12-foot-wide asphalt path for bicyclists and pedestrians and a bicycle/pedestrian roundabout connecting the greenway to the Jefferson Davis Parkway and Wisner Bike Trails. Lafitte Greenway will also link with bikeways from the French Quarter and CBD, and existing and future bikeways on North Galvez Street, North Broad Street and North Jefferson Davis Parkway. New Orleans currently has 82 miles of bikeways and will surpass 100 miles before the year is out. By contrast, the city only had five miles of designated bike paths prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Designed by Design Workshop and constructed by Durr Heavy Construction, the project is funded by Disaster Community Development Block Grants and Louisiana Recreational Trails Grants. The Lafitte Greenway is part of the Lafitte Corridor Revitalization Plan and is expected to be a catalyst for further development in the area, increase drainage capabilities during heavy rainfalls, provide multimodal alternative transportation and serve as a community gathering and recreational space.

Click here for further New Orleans data.

Image courtesy of the city of New Orleans.



Robért Fresh Market Releases Plans for Marigny Location

25 Mar 2014, 1:31 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Conceptual plans for the much-awaited Fauborg Marigny/Bywater location of Robért Fresh Market have been released and met with the approval of the Historic District Landmark Commission.

The plans, executed by King Retail Solutions (KRS), show a restored Robert Fresh Market on its pre-Katrina site with a receiving gate and fenced-in parking area on Marigny Street.  A new outparcel set to be leased out to a third-party retailer, an additional parking lot accessible from Elysian Fields Avenue and several bike racks are also included in the project. The full-service grocery store will feature skylights and an activated pedestrian area with outdoor seating and a Robert Café. According to Canal Street Beat, construction on the 35,000-square-foot grocery store and 10,000-square-foot outparcel could start in six months.

The project site has been under the exclusive ownership and control of Robért Marketfare St. Claude LLC for almost a year. The company severed ties with its previous landlord in April 2013, gaining ownership of the site bounded by St. Claude, Marigny, Rampart and Elysian Fields as well as access to insurance proceeds for Katrina-related damages. Robért Marketfare immediately expressed its intent to reopen at the location by repairing the historic building that previously housed the grocery store.

The chain had intended to reopen the Marigny location after Hurricane Katrina, but the site’s previous owners, the Schwegman family, refused to make the necessary repairs to the property. Following years of litigation, Robért Marketfare won a lawsuit against the landlord in March 2012.

Robért Fresh Market, a locally owned and operated grocery company, had six stores prior to the 2005 hurricane, all of which suffered extensive damage. Since the storm, the chain has managed to reopen three neighborhood locations: in Metaire (2005), Lakeview (2007) and Uptown (2008).

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Renderings courtesy of Robért Fresh Market



350KSF Phase I of Fremaux Town Center Opens in Slidell

18 Mar 2014, 3:46 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Phase I of Fremaux Town Center, the much-awaited retail development in Slidell, has celebrated its grand opening. Developed by Stirling Properties in a 35/65 joint venture partnership with CBL & Associates Properties Inc., Fremaux Town Center is a two-phase development set to feature 670,000 square feet of retail when completed. As previously reported , the project is located on the site of Summit Fremaux, a 400-acre retail-office-residential mixed-use project that was proposed in 2008 but never started development.

Phase I features 350,000 square feet of retail across 80 acres off I-10. Anchored by Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Best Buy, T.J. Maxx and Michaels, it features local, regional and national retailers. Others include Panera Bread, PetSmart and Rack Room Shoes. While some tenants will be opening new, first-time locations at Freamux, such as Dick’s, others will be relocating existing locations. For instance, Best Buy will relocate from North Shore Square Mall, off I-12, according to The New Orleans Advocate. North Shore Square Mall has been losing a steady stream of tenants to the new development and is expected to lose more as Fremaux goes fully operational.

While some tenants, such as Kohl’s and Dicks, opened pre-inauguration, others will open after the grand opening. Starbucks and Sport Clip, for instance, will open in the summer, while the 41,000-square-foot LA Fitness will open its first Louisiana location in the fourth quarter.

Phase II of Fremaux will add another 320,000 square feet of retail space when it opens in spring 2015. The Dillard’s-anchored development is set to break ground in the near future, and will contain mostly fashion-oriented retail space. Freamux’s trade area population exceeds 310,000.

According to The New Orleans Advocate, Stirling Properties is considering further development at Fremaux that would add office space, medical offices, town homes and high-end apartments.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Images via Stirling Properties



Starwood Announces Addition of Aloft Brand in CBD Adaptive-Reuse Project

10 Mar 2014, 9:07 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has announced plans to open a 188-key Aloft hotel in the New Orleans Central Business District, converting a historic office building. The project follows a bevy of other successful adaptive reuse projects involving the Aloft brand, such as Aloft Orlando Downtown, Aloft Miami-Brickell and Aloft Dallas Downtown.

Aloft New Orleans Downtown, the brand’s first Louisiana location, will open at 225 Baronne St., within the eponymous office building. The 30-story historic property, owned by 225 Baronne Complex LLC, an entity of New Orleans-based HRI Properties, is currently undergoing redevelopment that is set to transform the dilapidated office structure into a mixed-use project. According to The New Orleans Advocate, the project is worth $100 million.

Upon completion, 225 Baronne will comprise the 188-key Aloft New Orleans Downtown, 192 mixed-income housing units, 2,910 square feet of retail, 6,000 square feet of meeting space and a 356-car public parking facility. At least some of the housing units will be upscale apartments. Units will feature hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and in-unit washer-dryers.  Amenities will include a rooftop swimming pool, fitness facility, multi-purpose room, covered bike parking and on-site management office. The development’s CBD location will ensure excellent access and connectivity for residents and hotel guests to the Crescent City’s world-famous French Quarter, the Mercedes Benz Superdome, jazz clubs and vibrant nightlife, shopping and downtown’s many offices.

Set for completion in the first quarter of 2015, the more than 308,000-square-foot project will be executed in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for historic preservation. Roy Anderson Corp., a subsidiary of Tutor Perini Corp., snagged the $61.3 million construction contract for 225 Baronne St. and started work in November 2013. The project also involves the demolition of an adjacent structure, the 919 Gravier Building.

Aloft New Orleans Downtown will be managed by HRI Lodging.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of HRI Properties



Whitney Wyndham Sells for $10.5M

4 Mar 2014, 2:54 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

New Orleans real estate developer, investor and hotelier Joe Jaeger has picked up The Whitney Wyndham Hotel at 610 Poydras St., paying $10.5 million for the asset, reports Canal Street Beat.

The 93-key downtown property was previously owned by a partnership controlled by Robert Weinmann, a Metairie business owner, and Paul Flower, chief executive at Wood Design + Build. The previous ownership had purchased the property from Whitney National Bank in 1999 for $2.5 million and converted it into a hotel.

The 93-key, eight-story former bank building is a National Historic Landmark and a recipient of the 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Award. It combines traditional architecture with modern design. Amenities include more than 35,000 square feet of customizable meeting space, with its largest event space seating totaling 1,200 and one meeting room located in the original bank vault. Further amenities include a business center complete with audio-visual equipment, a full-service fitness center, valet parking, a lobby bar, a coffee shop, Wi-Fi throughout the property and on-site restaurant Bistreaux at the Bank, serving original Creole fare.

According to Canal Street Beat, Joe Jaeger owns or has stakes in several downtown New Orleans hotels, such as the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel, Hotel Mazarin, Bourbon Orleans Hotel and Crowne Plaza New Orleans, among others. Jaeger also own the MCC Group, a mechanical contracting firm.

In other hospitality news, New Orleans hotels have voted to impose a 1.75 percent extra room charge to generate income for city infrastructure projects and tourism promotion, reports The Times-Picayune. The charge will kick in on April 1 and apply to New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau-member hotels, except eastern New Orleans locations. Seventy-five percent of the tax will be collected by the convention bureau, while 25 percent will go into city coffers to pay for French Quarter infrastructure repairs and public safety. The convention bureau will spend 75 percent of its share on domestic marketing, such as promoting the city as a convention destination and to attract additional air travel service, while the remainder will go toward international marketing efforts.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of The Whitney Wyndham via Facebook



Blighted Nursing Home to Become Low-Income Housing

25 Feb 2014, 2:33 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

McCaleb Residences

Another Katrina-marred building might finally be returned to use, after developers of an efficiency apartment project received funding approval from the State Bond Commission, reports The New Orleans Advocate. The 40-unit project at 2535 Esplanade Ave. aims to redevelop the Katrina-marred former Bethany Home seniors housing property into efficiency apartments for the formerly homeless, disabled and working poor.

The $6.6 million project aims to create 20 units for low-income individuals and 20 for the formerly homeless, all of which would be 450 square feet in size. The project’s cost breaks down to $166,553 per unit, or $140 per square foot. Financing will be covered by $3.2 million in Katrina recovery funds, $2 million in low-income housing tax credits, an $834,000 loan and $500,000 in other funds.

The project is being developed by the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP) in partnership with New York-based nonprofit Common Ground and various charities. GCHP, a real estate development company, partners with non-profit, government and for-profit entities to build affordable housing serving low-earning and at-risk individuals and families.

GCHP has been involved in several New Orleans projects to date, such as the 43-unit McCaleb Residences on Clio Street, developed in partnership with the Progressive Baptist Church’s Dr. M.W McCaleb Fund. Completed in October 2012, the 48,535-square-foot home consists of one-bedroom units, 22 of which are leased to tenants earning 50 percent or less of the area median income, while 21 are designated as permanent supportive housing for the homeless. The $7.5 million McCaleb also features a community kitchen, media room, computer room, multifunctional space and office for counseling and support services.

GCHP is also developing a $6.7 million, 26-unit affordable housing complex on Clairborne Avenue. It will feature one-bedroom apartments, three of which are earmarked for special-needs households. The latter will receive special needs services from Covenant House. The project, which broke ground in August 2013 just one mile away from the French Quarter, is being brought to life in partnership with Gardner Development.

According to The New Advocate, the Bethany Home project was first proposed back in 2009 but spent years with lawsuits and even necessitated the involvement of the U.S. Justice Department.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Gulf Coast Housing Partnership



Whole Foods Market Opens in Mid-City

11 Feb 2014, 2:43 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Whole Foods Market, the natural and organic food retailer, expanded its New Orleans presence by opening a location on the corner of Broad and Bienville streets. The 25,000-square-foot store represents a major step toward revitalizing the Broad Street corridor, as the company redeveloped a long-blighted property, once home to a Robert’s Fresh Market and a Schwegmann’s supermarket. The new store retains the original terrazzo floor and reuses lettering from the old store sign, reclaimed graffiti art and pallet wood as design features. Further eco-friendly features include electric vehicle charging and bike fix-it stations. The location will sell 330 local grocery products, as well as local art. Healthy eating classes and events will be hold both on-site and throughout the community.

The $14 million grocery store has created 125 new full-time jobs, 74 percent of which are currently occupied by Orleans Parish residents. The city’s JOB1 Business and Career Solutions and the Office of Workforce Development assisted the retailer with recruiting events, hiring and training services, in an effort to ensure that new employees were sourced from the local workforce pool.

Whole Foods Broad Street is part of the 60,000-square-foot ReFresh project, which aims to be an economic and community anchor for the Broad Street neighborhoods, while also providing a high-quality fresh food source for a historically underserved area of the city. When completed, the mixed-use development will also house Liberty’s Kitchen, Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine and FirstLine Schools, as well as the headquarters of Broad Community Connections, the developer of ReFresh. Not-for-profit Broad Community Connections is focused on revitalizing the Broad Street corridor, stretching from Tulane Avenue to Bayou Road.

The new Whole Foods location and ReFresh are part of the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative (FFRI), a $14 million program offering low-cost, flexible financing to retailers who renovate, expand or open stores that sell fresh groceries in the city’s low-income food deserts. As such, ReFresh received a $1 million loan from the FFRI, half of which is forgivable, similar to the newly reopened landmark Circle Food Store in the Seventh Ward (more on that story here).  ReFresh also received a $900,000 award through the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s (NORA) Commercial Corridor Revitalization Program.

Whole Foods is celebrating the opening by donating 1 percent of its five-day New Orleans net sales to New Orleans nonprofits.

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Images courtesy of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office.



Kingfish Picks Up 133 KSF Kenner Office Building Near $826M Airport Expansion Site

4 Feb 2014, 6:44 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

2400 Veterans Boulevard

Kingfish Development II LLC, a real estate management and development company focused on the Gulf South office market, has announced the purchase of the former Rault Office Building in Kenner, La., for an undisclosed sum. The 133,312-square-foot office building at 2400 Veterans
Blvd. is the only Class A office space in Kenner, a submarket of Metro New Orleans. Parking for 456 cars, divided into an adjacent parking garage and two parking areas, was also included in the deal.

Built in 1982, the five-story, glass-façade office building will undergo a comprehensive renovation to both common areas and tenant space. Work is expected to wrap up in 2014. Leasing will be handled by Max J. Derbes Inc. CCIM Joe Gorman. Although a press release announcing the property’s purchase by Kingfish touted an 80 percent occupation rate and only 25,000 square feet of vacancy, according to the Max. J. Derbes website, a total of 35,905 square feet of space, or roughly 27 percent, was up for grabs a week after the purchase. Annual rental rates range between $18.5 and $19.50 per square foot.

Arial view rendering of the new North Terminal at New Orleans International Airport

The purchase of 2400 Veterans Blvd. could prove extremely profitable for Kingfish, as the property is located just one mile from New Orleans Airport, set to undergo an $826 million renovation and expansion process, designs for which have recently been released.  According to data provided by the city of New Orleans mayor’s office, the project includes a brand-new 650,000-square-foot, two-concourse, 30-gate airport terminal featuring 2,000 parking garage spaces. The project also includes a $72 million power plant and a $17 million on-site hotel. Currently named the North Terminal, its design is signed by Cesar Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli, Manning Architects, Crescent City Aviation Team and Leo A. Daly/Atkins. Targeted for a 2018 completion, the North Terminal is expected to create 13,000 construction jobs and a $1.7 billion construction economic impact, as well as retain and expand the existing 12,471 jobs on-site and an annual $3.2 billion economic impact on tourism.

Images courtesy of City of New Orleans Mayor’s Office via Facebook and Max J. Derbes



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.







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