Project Partner Spotlight: ERG Enterprises
By Green Coast on 24 Nov 2015
Sometimes great things can happen when two friends meet for a beer.
When Barrett Cooper met Will Bradshaw at the Bayou Beer Garden, he wanted to congratulate Bradshaw on Green Coast’s recent acquisition of the Pythian building, 234 Loyola. Bradshaw mentioned to Cooper, who is the COO of ERG Enterprises, that he was still looking for investors. Cooper was interested.
Little did either man know at the time that this brief conversation would eventually lead to ERG becoming a co-developer on the Pythian project.
As an investment company, ERG has been committed to investing and improving New Orleans. The firm has been involved in numerous New Orleans projects including the Orpheum Theater, Tipitina’s, Omni Royal Orleans, Pontchartrain Hotel and the iconic Windsor Court Hotel. But as Cooper points out, that’s not the company’s full story.
“We are a fully diversified investment company and we’ve been involved in many varied projects and interests, including entertainment, technology, real estate, the energy sector and health care,” says Cooper. “We are expanding and are open to hearing about products, projects and assets.”
Like the Orpheum, the Pythian, which was built in 1908, had historical and cultural significance, and Green Coast had created a complex financial plan, which included state and federal historic tax credits and New Market Tax Credits. Both the building™s rich history and the financing appealed to ERG, and the addition of the workforce rate apartments made it even more desirable.
“We thought this type of housing was something that the city really needed given that this working class economic bracket was being priced out of the neighborhood,” Cooper says. “At this point, we wanted to be involved but our level of involvement hadn’t been fully determined.”
That soon changed when the main commercial loaning institution pulled out late in the deal. Bradshaw and Cooper discussed the situation, which was dire because without the loan the tax credits would expire and that would doom the renovation. ERG agreed to participate in the project with a position equal to Green Coast, not as an investor, but as a co-developer.
“Our strength is the resources that we can provide and the relationships that we have with financial institutions,” Cooper says.
The firm immediately reached out to Susan Pereira, a senior vice president at Iberiabank, and her team fast tracked the loan with ERG serving as the loan guarantor. The deal was saved.
Like the other partner in the development team, Crescent City Community Land Trust, ERG thinks the New Market Tax Credits will benefit the downtown community and New Orleans. In order to qualify for the credits, a project must provide jobs and material improvement for low-income residents living in the project’s district.
The Pythian redevelopment will create jobs and it will also address the lack of health care — a community health clinic and a physical therapy clinic will be located in the building — and a public market housed in the Pythian will address the dearth of available fresh food. Plus, the Pythian will house 69 workforce and market rate apartments. Cooper says that the health care facilities are particularly important, because the firm prioritizes health care in its investment portfolio.
“Bottom line is that this is a very good project for us,” Cooper says. “We feel Green Coast are talented developers and are really experienced in putting together complex deals that benefit everyone involved.”
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