News > Press > Plans for mixed-use project in CBD advance

Original Article >

Plans for mixed-use project in CBD advance

7 Oct 2014

An environmentally-centered development firm planning a mixed-use conversion of a historic Central Business District building recently closed on its purchase of the property.

New Orleans-based Green Coast Enterprises bought the former Industries Building at 234 Loyola Ave. Thursday for $4.8 million from Johnann LLC. Green Coast is working with Crescent City Community Land Trust to redevelop the 10-story office tower into a mixed-use, mixed-income complex.

According to Orleans Parish conveyance records, the purchase deal includes a $3.78 million mortgage and security agreement with Enterprise Community Loan Fund, a Maryland-based lender for affordable housing developments.

Will Bradshaw, a principal partner in Green Coast Enterprises, said the development will include about 80 one- and two-bedroom market rate and lower-income apartments on the upper floors and roughly 11,000 square feet of sub-dividable commercial space on the ground floor and mezzanine area.

The project, which was designed by Studio WTA of New Orleans, would qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification as a sustainable green building. Bradshaw said a completely gutted building works to their advantage because it allows them to install all new energy-efficient systems and amenities.

Contractors with Landis Construction have already worked to strip away the building’s 1950’s-era steel and glass cladding so that the original brick and stone façade can be stabilized and restored.

Bradshaw said interior construction is expected to begin by the end of the year. He declined to reveal the project’s construction budget, but said federal and state historic tax credits are part of the financing package.

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 famed landing craft helped shuttle Allied troops onto 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.

Bradshaw said the development will target future employees of the nearby medical corridor between Tulane Avenue and Canal Street.

He said Green Coast has identified several possible tenants for the commercial space but would not disclose any targeted businesses. The commercial spaces will be built out based on the needs of the tenant, he added.

The developers aim for the commercial space to be filled by the end of 2015 and all residences occupied by early 2016.

According to records from the Secretary of State’s office, Johnann LLC is owned by Hossein “Lou” Talebloo. Orleans Parish records show that Talebloo bought the building in 2004 for $875,000 from Industries Realty Co. He planned a similar development but the project never materialized, and the building has sat vacant and gutted since 2010.