The new owners of the Market Street power plant, where twin Victorian chimneys have towered over the New Orleans river for 120 years, plan to convert the decaying structure into a complex that will include a hotel, offices, shops and some kind of entertainment. place.
Local developers Louis Lauricella and Brian Gibbs, along with Dallas-based real estate investment firm Cypress Equities, said they closed the property on Wednesday, taking it over from hotelier and developer Joe Jaeger, who had owned it since 2015.
Adjacent to the powerhouse, Lauricella, Gibbs and Cypress are also key partners in the consortium to develop the new 39-acre entertainment-focused district owned by the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Part of the groundwork for winning that lead developer deal was their announcement last year that they had agreed to buy the power plant. At the time, they said it would be the upstream anchor for the new neighborhood, which they dubbed The River District.
The old coal-fired plant was built in 1902 by the predecessor of Entergy Corp. and provided electricity to New Orleans for more than six decades. But it’s been nearly 50 years since the last smoke rose from its chimneys for its next iteration to be determined.
Jaeger, who bought the property for around $8.7 million, had hoped to turn it into a Live Nation concert hall, in keeping with the entertainment district project. However, he put the factory and its surrounding seven acres up for sale for $16.9 million in the summer of 2020 as part of a wider downsizing of his real estate empire, when his hotel group was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
He will continue to be involved in the development of the site, the partners said, without specifying in what capacity. Jaeger partners with Barry Kern in the nearby Mardi Gras World and owns adjacent property. He previously said he wanted to move Mardi Gras World and develop it into a tourist attraction in its own right.
The 160,000-square-foot powerhouse will be “transformed into a unique, new-to-market concept with entertainment, retail, hotel and creative office spaces as well as dining experiences,” the companies said Wednesday. partners, calling it an “experiential hub” for locals and tourists.
“The Market Street Power Plant site is an important part of our overall waterfront vision,” Lauricella said. “This site has the potential to be a transformative project for our community.”
The developers did not estimate when the project would be completed, or provide details on the number of hotel rooms or apartments. It’s also not clear how big the entertainment venue might be or how many square feet of office space are envisioned.
The consortium is still working with the Convention Center on the terms of the ground lease and detailed plans for the larger project, which plans to spend more than $1 billion developing housing, retail, entertainment and offices on the largely barren acres he controls.
Separately, the Convention Center still hopes to install a “headquarters hotel” on nine adjoining acres upriver that aren’t part of the River District’s plans. The pandemic stalled an initial proposal to build a 1,200-room hotel and parking lot, but tentative plans for a scaled-down hotel were revived last August.
The consortium’s winning bid said their project would start with the construction of 600 apartments, half of which would be priced to be affordable for low-income residents. The neighborhood will also include New Orleans’ first civil rights museum.
The River District won the development competition in part because of its focus on housing, which offered a total of 1,100 new units. A competing bid from a consortium led by developer Paul Flower originally proposed to build an entertainment-focused venue.
Lauricella’s group can now start with housing on the acres of the River District, while building the entertainment venue on its privately owned Market Street Power Station.