Gentilly Woods Shopping Center, Plaza Tower Await Rehabilitation
- Aug 01, 2011
Six years after being swamped by Hurricane Katrina, the Gentilly Woods Shopping Center has found a new owner. Walmart finally won the bid to remodel the long-vacant center after initially facing some opposition from Gentilly residents, who would have preferred occupancy by a mix of retailers.
The property was among those addressed by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, or NORA, which was created to responsively manage the reconstruction of the most blighted areas in the city following the massive hurricane. It focuses its resources on both housing and commercial development, encouraging rehabilitation of homes through such successful programs as the Lot Next Door and the Road Home but also dedicated to revitalization of commercial hubs.
The acquisition price for the Gentilly Woods Shopping Center is still under negotiation. Walmart was chosen over a redevelopment proposition made by New Jersey-based Michaels Development Co. that intended to transform the site into a mixed-use, mixed-income apartment complex.
Mega-retailer Walmart plans to invest as much as $13.4 million in the construction of an 116,000-square-foot big-box store and a huge parking lot over the next 10 months, after demolishing the existing 184,000-square-foot strip mall. NORA officials liked the proposal because Walmart did not seek any public subsidies in support of its endeavor, according to The Times-Picayune. Moreover, the project would create a large number of new jobs and attract more investors to the neighborhood.
Another blighted property awaiting restoration, Plaza Tower, has also been put up for sale. The third-tallest building in both New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, located in the Central Business District and zoned for retail, office and residential use, it will be sold in an absolute auction, with a minimum bid of $250,000; the sale will be conducted by a joint venture between Corporate Realty and DJM Realty. Bids are due Sept. 20, 2011. The 45-story skyscraper has been empty since 2002 and is being advertised as an exceptional redevelopment opportunity in favorable times that are likely to result in the resurgence of the Loyola corridor.