News > Press > Industrial laundry on Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans is eyed for conversion to brewery, restaurant

Original Article >

Industrial laundry on Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans is eyed for conversion to brewery, restaurant

24 Feb 2015

A shuttered industrial laundry warehouse that sits alongside Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans would be renovated into a brewery, tap room for beer tastings, restaurant and offices under a plan being proposed by a team of local developers. GCE Green Development LLC — a partnership of developer Ramsey Green and the environmentally minded real estate firm Green Coast Enterprises — is under contract to buy the building at 2606 St. Louis St., contingent on City Hall approving plans for the renovation.

The 32,000-square-foot space would host Urban South Brewery along with a yet-to-be decided restaurant. The building has a prime spot along Lafitte Greenway, a planned bicycle and pedestrian trail that stretches between the French Quarter and City Park. Construction on the greenspace is underway and is set for completion this spring.

Urban South Brewery is the brainchild of Jacob Landry, an education specialist who left his job as the Jefferson Parish public school system’s chief strategy officer in August to launch the new business. Landry, who recently finished Tulane University’s MBA program, said his passion for beer developed first during a stint in Europe, where he first tried Belgium beers, followed by tastes of craft brew in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest. Opening a brewery is a $1 million venture, he said, and he has already ordered some equipment for Urban South.

Louisiana ranks second to last in brewing, he said. “We’re decades behind the rest of the country in terms of local beer,” he said.

Green, a former Louisiana Recovery School District official, said Lafitte Greenway holds a lot of promise. “But that potential is incumbent on development being on the greenway,” he said.

“There’s going to be people riding their bikes along the greenway. There’s going to be people enjoying the greenspace,” Green said.

Green emphasized that Urban South Brewery’s plans are in an early stage of development. One problem developers will face is parking: There is none on site, and the laundry operated with a waiver for 21 parking spots. Developers said they’re committed to finding parking for patrons, including possible deals with neighboring parking lots, while also seeking a City Hall waiver for on-site parking. The building takes up the entire lot.

The building, vacant since Hurricane Katrina, opened as a laundry in the 1940s and has been owned by the same family since then. Green said the conversion would be an historical renovation, as developers are seeking federal and state historic tax credits. The design, still underway, would likely include a nod to the now-gutted building’s industrial past.

GCE Green Development LLC said it has also spent $2 million renovating blighted residential buildings in the Bienville Street area, two blocks from the proposed brewery, over the past two years. “We’ve done a lot of work in that area because, in part, the greenway is there, but we also have the hospital, we have the Whole Foods, we have the theater coming up on Broad Street,” he said.

Developers say they’ll request that City Hall approve the project under the land’s historic zoning of light industrial, which allows for a brewery. That’s instead of a more recently added interim overlay district for the Lafitte corridor, which does not allow for a brewery.