Friday, April 13, 2007

You're Hired

The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to sell city property located on Poydras St. to Donald Trump to build his Trump International Hotel & Tower.

If you've got an extra $300,000 you've been looking to invest, you may want to bid on a 3,500-square-foot piece of land in downtown New Orleans.

But you might have to outbid Donald Trump to get it.

The City Council has authorized the sale of a small chunk of city-owned land that is part of the site of the planned 70-story Trump International Hotel & Tower.

The 1.6 million-square-foot tower, estimated to cost about $400 million, would fill most of a largely vacant block. It would be 716 feet high, plus a 126-foot spire, and would contain 734 luxury condominium and hotel units and a 715-space garage.

Developers have said they hope to break ground this summer on what would be Louisiana's tallest building. Construction is expected to take 28 months, putting completion in late 2009.

At its April 5 meeting, the council gave unanimous approval to selling its piece of the site, a 106-by-33-foot plot in a block bounded by Poydras, Camp, Natchez and Magazine streets. The minimum price is $300,000, with 10 percent due in cash immediately. The city reserves the right to reject any or all bids.

The city also retains a "right of first refusal and option to purchase" the property for 10 years or until a building "assessed for ad valorem tax purposes" at not less than $50 million is built on the site.

In other news at the council meeting, a major local developer, HRI Properties, withdrew its application for a conditional-use permit for an $85 million, 10-story luxury condominium and apartment building in the Warehouse District.

HRI, the company led by Pres Kabacoff, wanted to build a 357,000-square-foot building with 221 apartments on the lower five floors, 105 condos on the upper five floors and a 509-space parking garage. The project would have included most of the block bounded by Andrew Higgins Drive and Constance, Poeyfarre and Annunciation streets.

Most of the 2-acre site is now a parking lot, but plans called for demolishing a small Pelican Ice & Cold Storage building at Andrew Higgins and Annunciation. The building would have lent its name to the new project, to be called the IceHouse Residences.

When it presented its plans to the City Planning Commission last year, HRI said it hoped to start construction by June, with the garage to be completed within a year and the residential building within 18 months.

The project needed a conditional-use permit and several other city approvals, including an 18-foot waiver to the normal 100-foot height limit.

The Planning Commission endorsed the project in December despite opposition from several residents of another building that HRI manages, the Cotton Mill condo building across the street.

Tara Hernandez, an HRI executive, said this week that the company has dropped the IceHouse project because it "no longer has site control." Richard Cahn, who owns the site, became concerned about repeated delays in getting the project under way, Hernandez said.

She said HRI might try to revive the project someday if it can regain control of the site.

Generally speaking I'm in favor development/redevelopment downtown and don't necessarily think that the Donald's project is a bad thing. However, overdevelopment is always a risk. The Trump International Hotel & Tower is a very large development and if the rooms/units can't be filled, a decaying tower will change the CBD from a shining beacon for business and commerce to a reminder to everyone that New Orleans is a dying city.

But I'm an optimist. Donald Trump didn't get where he is by investing in losing propositions.

2 comments:

. said...

That's great, I had not heard anything and I was looking for info a few months ago. I am glad to hear about this.

Anonymous said...

Actually, most of Trump's projects are losers--he's been in and out of reorganization, I think, several times. This project makes no sense at all. I will be shocked, if it makes it past basic foundation construction, since the pile-drivers will find no bedrock here.