By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor
New Orleans—The Gold Seal Lofts, which were completed by developer Domain Cos. only about a month ago in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans, are now completely leased, according to the company. Domain converted the historic former Gold Seal Creamery plant into 31 mixed-income apartments in a redevelopment designed by Verges Rome Architects of New Orleans. Gold Seal operated at the site from about 1920 to 1986, where it made a number of diary products, including the locally renowned Creole Cream Cheese.
Getting the deal financed was an exceedingly complex undertaking. Domain tapped into eight different sources, including a $3 million construction loan and $1 million permanent loan from Capital One; LHFA housing tax credits syndicated by Raymond James Financial that generated nearly $4 million in equity; $1.8 million of Community Development Block Grant Funds from the Louisiana Office of Community Development; plus Go Zone Bonus Depreciation, federal and state Solar Energy Tax Credits and a Restoration Tax Abatement from the city of New Orleans.
The apartments have a loft-like feel with high-ceilings, polished concrete floors and a modern finish package, according to the developer, and the property includes a number of green design features such as Energy Star lighting and appliances, water-conserving appliances and fixtures, and high-efficiency HVAC systems. The project also incorporates generating energy from photovoltaic (solar) panels on the building’s roof and using landscaping that reduces water consumption.
Another feature of the property is literally green. Domain incorporated two contiguous vacant lots into the development to create a community garden for its residents. Nola Green Roots, a community-based nonprofit with which Domain has partnered on several area gardens, will operate the Gold Seal garden. In addition, Domain acquired an adjacent blighted lot, converting it into a gated “bark park” for Gold Seal pets.
As the company’s fifth nearby development—others are near Tulane University and in BioDistrict New Orleans, which includes part of Mid-City and Downtown—Gold Seal is a component of Domain’s effort to remake the Mid-City neighborhood into a mixed-use district. In addition to the five area developments, the company has renovated several homes and neighborhood commercial buildings surrounding Gold Seal, converted other vacant lots to community gardens, helped restore St. Patrick Park, and coordinated area infrastructure improvements.