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New Orleans Hotels Rebrand, Expand and Start Anew

29 Sep 2014, 4:13 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

It’s not breaking news that New Orleans is a thriving tourist hub. As such, hotel development is a big part of the city’s real estate business. Recently, a string of new hotel developments lit up the local real estate and tourism sectors.

With New Orleans short 3,000 hotel keys, the Lower Garden District’s Prytania Park Hotel is looking to fill up some of that need, reports The New Orleans Advocate. The 60-key hotel is set to kick off a two-phase 140-key expansion on adjacent vacant lots. The first phase will add 48 keys in a new guestroom building, while phase two will introduce an additional 90 in another structure. According to Canal Street Beat, both buildings will be five stories high. A 113-car, two-level parking facility, a rooftop garden and a Lula distillery restaurant will also be added. Upon its late 2015 or early 2016 completion, Prytania Park will rebrand as the Avenue Oaks Hotel.

Downtown’s O’Keefe Plaza Hotel will also rebrand, reports Canal Street Beat. The six-story, 129-key CBD hotel will undergo renovations to convert to a Holiday Inn Express. Renovations will target both exterior work, such as structural modifications of the roof, as well as interior work, such as guest room finishes and alterations to the lobby and breakfast area. O’Keefe Plaza was purchased in July by New York-based Garrison Investment Group for $10.75 million.

The Cotton Exchange

Another CBD hotel, The Cotton Exchange, is also headed toward rebranding.  The 223-key property was selected by AC Hotels by Marriott as the brand’s first U.S. location, announced Canal Street Beat. The property will undergo a $12 million conversion that will add an urban air to the property, with a design inspired by Milan’s fashion world, while still preserving historic features such as the original glass windows, tiled lobby and marble archway.

If approved, a proposed 80-key hotel at 111 Iberville St. might break the French Quarter’s moratorium on new hotels, reported The Times-Picayune.  The ban on new hotel development was implemented in 1969 to prevent The Quarter from turning into nothing more than a tourist zone. Developers Wayne and David Ducote plan on redeveloping a seven-story historic former sugar mill into an 80-key boutique hotel. The project would increase the property slightly from its current 37,900 square feet to 41,900 square feet by enlarging the ground and top floors. The enlargements would accommodate a restaurant, pool and office.

Click here for additional New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Infrogmation via Wikimedia Commons



$35M Low-Income Seniors Housing Facility Opens in New Orleans High-Rise

21 Sep 2014, 5:42 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Marais Apartments

The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) recently provided important updates on efforts to provide safe, affordable and equitable housing to the residents of New Orleans, especially as part of rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Modernization is well underway at the 483-unit Guste housing development’s Guste III phase. And redevelopment is moving along on phase two of the $148 million, 276-unit Fabourg Lafitte project. Both projects are mixed-income communities.  At the same time, the 51-unit, $14 million Florida housing community is nearing completion.

The most important update given by HANO, however, was the recent opening of the 112-unit Marais Apartments, a $35 million low-income seniors housing complex located at 101 Marais St. in the upper Canal Street area. The project is the first off-site housing within the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative currently revitalizing the historic Iberville and Tremé neighborhoods of central New Orleans.  It is also a significant redevelopment project, having given a new life to the blighted former Texaco high-rise. As previously reported, a landmark of downtown New Orleans and part of the National Register of Historic Places, the structure had sat vacant for 15 years and had not fared well during Katrina.

The 17-story Marais Apartments comprises 100 one-bedroom apartments and 12 studios available for seniors 62 and older. Amenities at the former New Orleans Texaco headquarters include a fitness facility, community room with kitchen, laundry facilities, multi-purpose room, reading and computer room,  beauty salon, intercom-access gardening terrace and 17th-floor terrace with sweeping views of the Big Easy.  The tower features 2,000 square feet of retail space fronting Canal Street, which is up for lease.

Marais is an income-restricted property. Residents can not earn more than $24,640 (singles) or $28,240 (couples), reports The Times-Picayune, adding that rents clock in at $650 for studios and $740 for one-bedroom units. The same source reported that the occupancy was at 94 percent.

Marais Apartments is the result of a collaboration between HANO, the city of New Orleans and HRI Properties. Landis Construction served as general contractor on the project. Financing was amassed from a multitude of public sources, such as a subordinate loan from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits and tax-exempt bonds issued by the Louisiana Housing Corp. Private financial project partners include AEGON USA Realty Advisors LLC, Chase Bank and Stonehenge Capital Co.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Images courtesy of HRI Properties



The Paramount Starts Pre-Leasing; Market-Rate French Quarter Apartments Announced

14 Sep 2014, 5:55 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Yet another apartment project has been announced for New Orleans’ highly desirable historic downtown core, but unlike most French Quarter developments, this residential project will feature market-rate residences instead of luxury units, reports Canal Street Beat. The 89-unit development is helmed by French Quarter Apartments LP, an entity that consists of SunAmerica Affordable Housing and DIL/SAHP Corp. Both are subsidiaries of AIG Global Real Estate of New York.

If approved by the Vieux Carré Commission (VCC) architectural board, the developers will add a rooftop penthouse and cooling towers to the existing warehouse structure and initiate comprehensive interior renovations at the property. The former Maison Blanche annex’s exterior will not be altered, as the developers will be using federal and state historic tax credits for the $20 million conversion.

According to Canal Street Beat, the 939 Iberville St. project will feature street-level commercial space, an 83-car parking garage, 24 apartments on floors three and four, 23 on the fifth floor and 16 penthouses. Units will average 1,300 square feet and include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Designed by local architect Emile Weil, the historic property was built in the late ’20. The owner-developers purchased the property for $3.9 million in 1998.

The Paramount at South Market

In other residential news, pre-leasing has kicked off at the $48.4 million The Paramount at South Market luxury apartments. The LEED-certified apartment building comprises more than 200 one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging between 594 and 1,276 square feet. Rents start at a monthly $1,465 and go up to $2,935. As previously reported, The Paramount is the first stage of the $200 million multi-phase South Market District set to transform a four-block area of New Orleans’ historic downtown.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of The Paramount at South Market/The Domain Cos. via Facebook



175 KSF FedEx Distribution Center Coming to Covington

8 Sep 2014, 4:21 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Federal Express is set to develop a 175,000-square-foot distribution center in St. Tammany Parish, creating 800 new jobs, reported The Times-Picayune.  The facility will occupy 15 acres in Northpointe Business Park, a 118-acre industrial park west of Covington.

The facility will feature about 7,500 square feet of office space. Site clearing has started for the project, which will take about 15 months to complete. It will spur significant road improvements in the area, as it is expected to add 580 vehicles to traffic every day. According to Canal Street Beat, Northpointe Business Park is owned by Chris Lope, while the actual site to hold the FedEx facility is owned by Kansas City, Mo.-based Jones Development Co. Rents for industrial space at Northpointe range between $5 and $6 per square foot. The park has 50 acres of undeveloped land left.

This is the second industrial announcement to shake up the Covington area this summer. Earlier this summer, Enviro-Tech Systems (ETS), a full-service water treatment manufacturer, has announced plans to develop a 10,000-square-foot facility. The more than $1 million facility will be located at the company’s existing site on Norwell Drive in Covington. The company’s existing 50-member staff will increase by 50 percent with the new facility. ERS has accessed various state incentives and Small Business Development Center assistance with the help of the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation (STEDF).

Click here for further New Orleans market data

Image courtesy of St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation



$130M New Orleans East Hospital Opens

29 Aug 2014, 2:02 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The nine-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina this month brings sobering reminders of how much reconstruction is still ahead, but also a hopeful sense of progress. Among the latest encouraging milestones on the city’s long road to recovery is the recent opening of the $130 million New Orleans East Hospital.

Located at 5620 Read Blvd., the 80-bed facility was completed in May and has now received accreditation. It sits on the 23-acre former site of Methodist Hospital, which was severely damaged by Katrina. New Orleans East comprises Methodist’s six-story, 133,640-square-foot East Tower and a new three-story, 71,700-square-foot Patient Care Pavilion.

The facility includes 46 medical and surgical beds, ten pediatric medical and surgical beds, a 21-bed emergency department, a 14-bed intensive care unit, a 10-bed intermediate care unit, a seven-bed universal care unit, seven anesthesia and recovery care beds, four operating suites, two endoscopy suites, a catheter lab, an imaging department, a clinical lab, central sterile facilities, a full-service pharmacy, outpatient diagnostic facilities, a cardiac rehabilitation unit, a physical and occupational therapy facility and fitness center. The hospital also includes a suite of 56 administrative offices, eight meeting rooms, a physicians’ lounge, a cafeteria and a gift-shop.

Funding for the project was provided by a $97.6 million HUD-insured mortgage loan, $15 million in Capital Outlay Projects funding, an $8.4 million FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant and close to $1 million in federal grant money for hospital equipment and ensuring the facility’s completion.

The development team included New Orleans-based architecture firms Manning Architects and Eskew-Dumez-Ripple, as well as the Lemoine Co., the project’s Lafayette-based general contractor. The hospital has created 150 new permanent jobs and provided 300 jobs during construction.

The grounds of New Orleans East are also home to a 33,000-square-foot primary care facility operated by Daughters of Charity Health Service. Located at 5630 Read Blvd., the $9 million facility opened in January.

Click here for further New Orleans market data

Image courtesy of Mayor Mitch Landrieu via Facebook 







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