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Bruno Picks Up Algiers Commercial Centers, Plans Further Development

12 Jan 2015, 9:46 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Galridge Center II

Joshua Bruno has been making quite the splash in the New Orleans real estate market, and especially Algiers. Last year, it snapped up several properties, most recently the 336-unit Oakmont Apartments. Now, the real estate developer and property owner has acquired one square block (about one acre) worth of assets on General DeGaulle Drive. The assets include Galridge Center I and II, as well as a vacant commercial lot. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Located just minutes from downtown New Orleans, Galridge Center I features retail space, while Galridge Center II is a mixed-use property sporting a shopping center and office space. According to Canal Street Beat, the properties total 4,400 and 3,600 square feet, respectively. Overall, the assets boast a 90 percent occupancy rate, with the shopping center component fully leased. The stabilized tenant base, with many companies in place for several years, includes Crescent Title, State Farm Insurance and Liberty Tax, along with a number of law firms, medical offices and production companies. Rise Management, a subsidiary of Bruno Inc., will manage the properties and add a number of diversified national tenants. Rise Management will also upgrade the properties with complimentary Wi-Fi, CCTV cameras, LED energy-efficient security lighting , extra signage and increased landscaping features.

Galridge Center I

“I’m very bullish on the Westbank and mainly the Algiers area due to the Medical Corridor and Federal City Development. Given the high ground and large traffic count, this area is prime for expansion and additional development needed to satisfy the ever-growing housing and retail/office space demand,” Bruno declared.

With this purpose in mind, another Josh Bruno company, the Downtown Development Group, will add a second floor over the existing shopping center. Downtown Development Group will also collaborate with national retailers and restaurateurs for a ground-up, built-to-suit project on the acquired vacant lot.

Bruno Inc. owns and self manages more than 6 million square feet of commercial and multifamily space.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Images via Google Maps


Bruno Acquisition, Upgrade of Oakmont Apartments Worth $24M

22 Dec 2014, 4:21 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Oakmont Apartments

New Orleans-based Bruno Inc. has acquired Oakmont – New Orleans, a 336-unit apartment community in Algiers. Bruno Inc. president & CEO Joshua Bruno partnered with Raj Pandit on the acquisition. Bruno and the managing member of Pandit Law Firm LLC acquired the 16-acre apartment community, located not far from New Orleans’ booming downtown, from a Chicago-based real estate investment trust. They plan to upgrade the property.

“This acquisition is ripe for repositioning at a time when New Orleans is under increased housing demands, with an inadequate supply for the metro-area workforce,” Bruno declared.

While the acquisition price has not been disclosed, Bruno told Multi-Housing News “the overall project is $24 million.”

Oakmont Apartments’ planned upgrades have a resident-centric focus. Among the additions will be community gathering places with BBQ grills, enclosed playgrounds, complimentary Wi-Fi, as well as an on-site business center, CCTV cameras and a bevy of exterior cosmetic upgrades. The developers will also invest in adding more green points to Oakmonts’ reputation by installing energy-efficient LED lighting and covered bike racks and planting hundreds of trees and shrubs throughout the community. Furthermore, they will install French drains and subsurface retention ponds capable of holding thousands of gallons of water during storm events in accordance with the city’s master plan and water management plan.

“We are striving to make Oakmont a true community for its residents, where interactions with neighbors will be easier and more convenient than ever before,” Bruno said.

Oakmont Apartments

Currently, the gated community offers a swimming pool complete with sundeck, a tennis court, water features and access to public transportation, freeways and shopping. Oakmont comprises one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as one-bedroom loft-style units. Apartments range between 750 and 950 square feet, with rents ranging between $650 and $950 per month. The community is currently fully leased.

“Though we already have a strong resident base and actually have a waiting list for units, we are committed to increasing Oakmont’s curb appeal … which we believe will help transform the surrounding neighborhood into what it could become,” Bruno said.

New Orleans-based MetroWide Apartments will manage the property. The company currently manages more than 2,000 apartments and is expanding.

Bruno Inc. owns more than 6 million square feet of commercial and multifamily space that it self manages.

Click here for additional New Orleans market data.

Images via oakmontneworleans.com

410-Key Le Méridien New Orleans Debuts $29M Renovation

22 Dec 2014, 3:34 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The Paris-born Le Méridien hotel brand has made its debut in New Orleans, one of the hottest U.S. hospitality markets. The 410-key former W New Orleans is in the midst of a comprehensive $29 million renovation and conversion project, set to wrap up with a grand opening of Le Méridien New Orleans in March 2015.

The downtown New Orleans high-rise hotel is undergoing a two-phase renovation process, the first of which has been completed. Phase one included the complete overhaul of all 410 guestrooms and the lobbies. The hotel now features design elements showcasing an aerial view of New Orleans’ unique geography and cartography, as well as patterns inspired by the city’s iconic architecture and culture.

The renovation’s second phase includes the addition of 1,600 square feet of meeting space, for a grand total of 20,000 square feet available onsite. Other completed additions include the signature Le Méridien Hub, a coffeehouse/wine bar lounge; the Longitude 90 bar; LMNO, the hotel’s destination restaurant run by Chef Mauricio Gutierrez; and Marché, the new breakfast restaurant. The renovation’s final phase will also add a redesigned desk and port-cochere valet entrance, as well as a landscaped palm garden with outdoor seating for events. Existing meeting space will also be upgraded prior to the grand opening.

Other amenities include an outdoor rooftop pool, a fitness center, a business center, pet grooming, iPod accessories rental and an SMS Text concierge. Located just outside the world-famous French Quarter and the city’s up-and-coming Warehouse/Arts District, Le Méridien New Orleans  offers swift access to the city’s countless jazz clubs, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Harrah’s Casino, the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, the French Market, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Contemporary Arts Center.

The rebranding of the former W New Orleans was announced in mid-2103, following the property’s acquisition by Chesapeake Lodging Trust. As previously reported, the Maryland-based REIT picked up the 410-key hotel for $65 million from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which was retained as property manager under a long-term contract. Renovation kicked off in spring 2014.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Le Méridien New Orleans via Facebook and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide


Marriott Debuts New Brand with 220-Key AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon

15 Dec 2014, 9:54 pm

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon

Global hospitality giant Marriott International Inc. officially debuted the AC Hotels by Marriott brand in North America with the opening of the 220-key AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon. The New Orleans location marks not only the AC Hotels by Marriott brand’s U.S. debut but also the start of an aggressive expansion in the United States and Latin America. The lifestyle brand will open more than 50 destinations throughout the Americas over the next three years. The brand’s next locations, set to open early in 2015, include Kansas City’s posh Westport neighborhood and downtown Miami Beach.

Located at 221 Carondelet St., the AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon is situated in the world-famous French Quarter, a global destination for entertainment, food, culture and business. Opened in November in the historic Cotton Exchange building, the lifestyle hotel underwent a multimillion-dollar conversion. According to The New Orleans Advocate, Texas-based hotel development, construction and management company NewCrestImage invested $18 million in the 1871-built property’s renovation. NewCrestImage paid $17.8 million to purchase the property in mid-2013. The owner will also operate the AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon under a franchise agreement with Marriott. According to The New Orleans Advocate, the hotel employs 70. As a nod to its target demographics, Millennial travelers, the hotel offers complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the property.

The redesigned hotel features a sleek European look inspired by Milan’s fashion world, while still staying true to the property’s historic air. Amenities include a fitness center, five meetings and event venues totaling 2,200 square feet, and 47-inch flat-screen TVs with premium movie channels in every room. Signature amenities include the AC Library; the AC Lounge; a daytime work and after-hours relaxation space serving signature drinks, craft beers and tapas; and The AC Kitchen, offering posh European breakfasts.

“With the continued rise of the Millennial traveler, we saw an opportunity to import this highly successful European brand from overseas with the hope of introducing a more experiential and design-led, upper-moderate-tier lifestyle brand to the U.S.,” said Marriott International President & CEO Arne Sorenson.

Founded in 1998 by famed Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan, AC Hotels joined Marriott’s global portfolio in 2011. Currently, AC Hotels by Marriott operates 74 hotels throughout Southwestern Europe, in sought-after destinations such as France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image courtesy of Marriott International

165-Key Warehouse District Hotel Rebrands, Starts $14M Reno

8 Dec 2014, 6:14 am

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery

It looks like things are going to heat up even more for the Big Easy’s tourism industry. Speaking at TravelSouth International Showcase, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau President & CEO Stephen Perry announced that the city will host two major international tourism industry events over the next two years, reported The Times-Picayune. The first event will be the Go West Seminar, a three-day event organized by German tour operator Meiers Weltreisen. The three-day event will bring 100 travel agents to New Orleans and Louisiana in November 2015.

The second event, however, will be a landmark happening. In June 2016, the U.S. Travel Association IPW, the world’s largest tradeshow of its kind, will descend upon New Orleans, bringing 1,200 domestic and international travel buyers from more than 1,000 domestic travel organizations and 70 countries.

With the tourism industry riding such highs, it comes as no surprise that the local hotel real estate market is running hot, as well. This week, it was the old Ambassador Hotel’s turn to hit the development block, with the owners announcing a $14 million renovation and rebranding. The 160-year-old building’s remodel will focus on highlighting the structure’s original architectural elements, such as exposed brick, and hardwood floors. In-room amenities will include flat-screen TVs, docking stations and complimentary Wi-Fi. Hotel amenities will include a fitness center and a versatile meeting venue. The remodel will increase the number of rooms to 167 and locate a popular food and beverage spot on-site later in 2015. The property, set to open in spring, will be renamed The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery in honor of its port trade past.

Previously part of hospitality mogul Warrant Reuther’s holdings, the former ambassador is now under the ownership of Provenance Hotels and GB Lodging. According to The Times-Picayune, Provenance and GB purchased the hotel in August 2013 for an undisclosed price.

Click here for further New Orleans market data.

Image credit: The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery via Facebook 

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