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September 22, 2013

South Market Celebrates Groundbreaking, Starts Infrastructure Work

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

Things are racing along at The South Market District (SoMa), the Crescent City’s transformative mixed-use transit-oriented downtown project. Developer The Domain Cos. recently hosted a groundbreaking event to celebrate the launch of the district’s first phase, the $48.4 million Paramount building.  The company also secured financing for and commenced construction on the new infrastructure required to establish the project’s pedestrian-friendly character.

Infrastructure work at SoMa is a complex undertaking, as the project encompasses a four-block area in historic downtown New Orleans, which it aims to become one of the most walkable areas of the city, connecting three of its most sought-after neighborhoods: the CBD, the historic Warehouse/Arts District and the Sports/Entertainment District.

Girod Street, SoMa’s focal point, is set to become a pedestrian-friendly shopping and entertainment corridor. To increase walkability as well as to better accommodate the cafés and restaurants that are to fringe the project’s main artery, Domain secured approval to shut down a traffic lane on Girod and use the extra space to widen sidewalks from the current seven feet to about 20 feet.  Furthermore, 390 linear feet of street are to be reconstructed with everything from new pavement, curbs and sidewalks to sub-surface drainage, utility piping and driveways to street lights, traffic signals, signage and street trees. Metairie-based Hard Rock Construction is the general contractor on the infrastructure component, which carries a price tag of $930,000. Funding was assembled from company equity, operating as South Market L.L.C., and public loans, grants and funds, such as a $500,000 CDBG loan from the Louisiana Office of Community Development and a $300,000 grant from the Louisiana State Capital Outlay Fund.

Phase I of SoMa, consisting of the Paramount building, commenced construction in June. The five-story structure will comprise 209 apartments and 22,000 square feet of street-level retail space along Girod, O’Keefe and parts of Lafayette and South Rampart streets. Paramount is set to be LEED Silver certified while harmonizing with adjacent neighborhoods, featuring a modern take on the Warehouse District architecture. Retail tenants will be announced this fall, upon commencement of the project’s second phase, a $20 million building featuring 25,000 square feet of retail space and a 435-car parking garage. A further two phases of SoMa, featuring retail and residential space, are set for 2014 and 2015 groundbreakings.

Rendering courtesy of The Domain Cos.

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