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Partnership redeveloping NO office building

28 Dec 2013

An environmentally centered development company and a nonprofit real estate investment group are moving forward to bring more commercial space and multifamily housing to the Central Business District.

New Orleans-based Green Coast Enterprises and Crescent City Community Land Trust have begun work to redevelop the former Industries Building at 234 Loyola Ave., across from City Hall, into a mixed-use, mixed-income complex.

New Orleans CityBusiness reported (http://bit.ly/1efOx4V) the development will include about 80 one- and two-bedroom market rate and low-income apartments on the upper floors and roughly 22,000 square feet of commercial space across the two bottom floors.

Van Temple, the trust’s executive director, said his company and Green Coast Enterprises acquired the 10-story office tower from developer Lou Talebloo about a year ago for an undisclosed amount.

City records show that Talebloo bought the building in 2004 for $875,000. He planned a similar development but the project never materialized. The building has been vacant and gutted since 2010.

Temple said the building dates back to 1909 and was once the home of the Knights of Pythias, an African-American fraternal order that spawned from a Civil War-era organization.

The building also housed a jazz hall, a community theater and offices for companies that Pythian knights operated.

After serving the knights into the late 1930s, the building became the hiring office for boat builder Andrew Higgins, whose landing craft helped shuttle Allied troops to the beaches of Normandy and other World War II battlefields. Higgins maintained the 10th-floor dance hall as a place for soldiers and sailors to gather before being sent off to war.

In the 1950s, building owners covered the original stone façade with a steel and glass wall cladding.

Temple said the trust and Green Coast Enterprises are working with Landis Construction on restoration and interior construction. He said contractors recently started the first phase of construction, which includes removal of the modern cladding and stabilization of exterior bricks.

Wayne Troyer Architects designed the project.

Lex Kelso, a principal partner with Green Coast Enterprises, said a financing package for the interior construction work is still being developed and would not disclose the project’s budget.

The developers expect to close on all financing, including federal and state historic tax credits, by late spring, with construction starting soon after that.