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Triple Bottom Line Corner: The Pythian

By Green Coast on 18 Dec 2018

The Pythian’s two facades. Photo by George Long
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The Pythian’s two facades. Photo by George Long

Green Coast’s triple bottom line approach starts with people and for the The Pythian renovation it almost could have stopped there. But for any commercial endeavor to work, it has to show a profit and for the The Pythian that required creative and effective financing and Green Coast finding partners who recognized the project’s potential.

Green Coast President Will Bradshaw says that when they were planning the restoration, they knew if done right the project could positively affect past, present and future generations.

“Even though it had been shuttered for many years, people still remembered The Pythian’s history and what it had meant for the city’s African American community. A mecca for business, nonprofits and culture,” Bradshaw explains. “With downtown living, commercial spaces, a food hall, music and nightlife, we could return it to commerce as the living room for downtown New Orleans.”

Before undertaking the project, Green Coast had already shown its ability to use historic tax credits and other innovative funding sources. For The Pythian, the firm would employ historic tax credits and New Market Tax Credits, but Green Coast also needed partners to make the complex financing work. After thoroughly examining the proposal and seeing the inclusion of 25 workforce-rate apartments, Crescent City Community Land Trust became a partner.

An early investor, ERG Enterprises, a local capital investment firm owned by Dr. Eric George, increased its stake to partner status following careful review. As ERG’s chief operating officer, Barrett Cooper, told New Orleans City Business the building’s history and workforce housing component interested them, and the complex and solid funding streams impressed them.

“Diversifying the structure gives the asset a more durable value in the end,” Cooper said.

Green Coast always considers environmental impact when considering a project, and The Pythian restoration satisfied that consideration. Restoring a historic property is nearly always preferable to tearing down and starting new construction, and not only would the project return The Pythian’s architectural glory, but it would also modernize the building’s performance, making it more energy efficient, comfortable and reducing its overall carbon footprint.

With the plan in place and funding secured, construction progressed smoothly and today the multi-use The Pythian is already a significant fixture in downtown New Orleans.

“It’s funny because when we first started with this project, I thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our firm,• Bradshaw says. “It remains that way in some regards, but now I realize there are numerous similar opportunities out there. We just need to find them.”

Green Coast’s triple bottom line—“People, Planet, Profit”—has guided the firm since our founding more than ten years ago. We live and work in New Orleans, so we look for and develop projects that positively impact our friends and neighbors, our environment and make good economic sense. A regular feature, the Triple Bottom Line Corner will showcase these efforts, and demonstrate how this approach benefits our clients, partners and community.

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