Renovation of blighted firehouse to begin in 2024, developers say

The firehouse redevelopment team updated the Delachaise Neighborhood Association at the group’s November meeting about the plans for the blighted firehouse on Louisiana Avenue. The historic firehouse will be renovated to include seven units of permanently affordable housing upstairs, with an early childhood education center on the ground floor. The early childhood education center will also occupy the property’s outdoor space and an “accessory structure” behind the main building. 

The city owns the property and is leasing it to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) for a 99-year term; NORA is currently managing the property but will sublease it to the development partner, who will put the building and surrounding space back into use. 

The developers for the project are Alembic Community Development, Home by Hand, Studio Kiro (the architecture firm overseeing the restoration of the Dew Drop Inn on LaSalle Street) and CDW Services as the general contractors. 

Members of the Alembic development team as well as NORA representative Seth Knudsen gave the updates on the project. Alembic team member Jonathan Leit was optimistic about the physical state of the building. “There’s always work to be done but, compared to other buildings we’ve worked on, it’s in pretty good shape,” Leit said. 

The overall cost of the renovations is expected to be around $4 million, and Leit said that they hope to have funding secured by the end of next year, with construction beginning in 2024 and the apartments and childhood education center ready to open in 2025.

Leaders express frustration with Folgers over outstanding taxes (sponsored)

New Orleans officials are expressing frustration with Folgers Coffee Co. for refusing to pay its outstanding property taxes, which fund schools, police and a variety of critical services. Nearly two years ago, the New Orleans City Council and Orleans Parish School Board both denied Folgers’ applications for tax exemptions. Nonetheless, the company still has not paid the taxes, and now it is arguing in court that it should never have to pay them. Civil District Judge Omar Mason will consider the matter at a hearing on Thursday (Nov.

City Council to vote on expanding area covered by parking overlay

City Council will vote Thursday (Oct. 6) on an interim zoning district that would temporarily expand the area subject to the University Area Off-Street Parking Overlay restrictions. The proposed interim zoning district would include the Carrollton, Marlyville-Fontainebleau, Broadmoor and Uptown neighborhoods in the restrictions aimed at curbing “doubles to dorms” developments. These private student housing developments are rented by the bedroom. 

The University Area Off-Street Parking Overlay, passed in October 2021, addresses the residential density from D2Ds by requiring a permeable off-street parking spot for each bedroom added to a property. It applies to new construction and renovations with more than five bedrooms in residential buildings without a homestead exemption. 

The interim zoning district and overlay were both created to address the lack of Uptown parking because of the greater residential density from D2D development.

Developers plan to turn Our Lady of Lourdes into a reception hall

Plans are in the works to turn the long-dormant Our Lady of Lourdes church on Napoleon Avenue into a reception hall and event venue. The project is in the early stages of development — so early that the developer named in a letter informing neighbors about the plans, Arts Design Hospitality + Development, is not registered with the state. “The LLC has not been formulated yet,” said Zach Smith, a land-use consultant working with the developers. “But eventually we have two individuals who will comprise that group.”

David Fusilier, a contractor with Perle Construction, and Doug Cloninger, director of Amicus Investment Holdings, plan to purchase and renovate the century-old building, listed at $1.25 million. The church anchors the uptown-lake corner of the square block bounded by Napoleon, La Salle, Jena and Freret.

River Garden Apartments set to move forward with major renovation

HRI Communities announced it is set to move forward with a major renovation of the River Garden Apartments. The developer has closed on the financing for the $10 million renovation project. The mixed-income apartment homes were developed in 2003 as the first phase of the St. Thomas HOPE VI Redevelopment Project. The renovations at 913 Felicity Street will include comprehensive exterior and selective interior improvements, said HRI Communities President Josh Collen in a press release.

New York investors buy the Whole Foods building on Magazine

A New York investment group has purchased Arabella Station, the home of Whole Foods Market on Magazine Street, for $31.4 million, property records show. Whole Foods has a long-term lease on the former bus barn and is expected to remain. The property that takes up the entire block at 5600 Magazine St. was purchased by DK WFNO, a limited liability company operated by Debra Kalimian. Kalimian runs D&R Holding and A&R Kalimian Realty out of offices in Manhattan, records show.