A plan to turn a shuttered Robért Fresh Market in the Lower Garden District into a $35 million apartment complex has gained a boost, with a city agency approving a tax benefit for the project.
The Industrial Development Board has approved a PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, arrangement for Edwards Communities’ proposed 210-unit apartment complex at the site of the former Annunciation Street supermarket.
In return for the tax break, the project will reserve 10 units for tenants who make between 80 and 100 percent of the area's median income. Another 24 units will go to residents who earn up to 120 percent of the median income, or what is known as “workforce housing.”
The area's median income was $63,300 in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The company loves New Orleans and is committed to this project and has made the commitment to do this project,” attorney Mike Sherman told IDB members at a recent meeting.
Robért never reopened its Annunciation Street store after Hurricane Katrina. The site used to be home to a Schwegmann’s, owned by the grocery store chain that closed in 1999.
Demolition of the store and building of the more than 200 apartments will be Edwards’ second notable development in New Orleans. Its first, a 382-unit project in Mid-City on the Lafitte Greenway, is under construction.
The plan the IDB approved will let Edwards pay a set amount over several years, rather than property taxes that would rise sharply and less predictably as the project's construction and opening increase the site's value.
During the two-year construction period, Edwards would pay roughly $65,000 to the city, an amount that includes a $14,580 administrative fee to the IDB.
Once the project is built, Edwards would pay more than $247,000 in the first year, an amount that would increase by 2.5 percent a year over the next 11 years, for a total of about $3.3 million.
The project’s architect is the Ohio-based firm Lupton Rausch. Construction is expected to begin in the summer, with completion set for 2020.
“The Edwards Communities team spent over a year working with neighbors, the neighborhood association and the city prior to filing, to make sure that this project met the needs of the community and the neighborhood,” Sherman said.
“And we are really proud of that work, leading up to positive votes by the Industrial Development Board.”