Blake Pontchartrain: Plaza Tower_lowres

The building at 1001 Howard Ave. once was heralded as a beacon of modernity but now is deteriorating.

Hey Blake,

What is going on with the Plaza Tower on Howard Avenue? It is wrapped in razor wire and appears to have been left to decay. It's kind of an eyesore sitting close to the Union Passenger Terminal and the new streetcar line.


Dear Juni,

  When the ultra-modern Plaza Tower opened in 1969, it was the tallest building in the state, higher even than the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Sitting at 1001 Howard Ave., the 45-story building was designed by architect Leonard Spangenberg Jr. and rises 510 feet in the air. Original plans called for it to house offices, penthouse apartments, restaurants, a bank, a health club, heliport and an observation deck. "Plaza Tower surmounts the skyline," boasted a magazine ad in 1964, the year construction on the project began. "Plaza Tower serves as a beckoning beacon, attracting others to challenge if they will, to surpass if they can, its shining example."

  Hopes were high, but the building always has been mired in controversy. Early on, owner Sam J. Recile filed bankruptcy and the partially completed building went on the auction block to satisfy creditors. That delayed construction for several years. Though it did find a major tenant in Mobil Oil for a few years, other tenants complained the structure was poorly designed, the floors were too small and the building was too far away from other amenities.

  Plaza Tower went through several owners an most recently was called Crescent City Towers. It was closed in 2002 due to environmental problems. There have been several efforts to convert it into residential use, but they went nowhere. In 2014, developer Joe Jaeger bought the building but has not revealed any plans for redevelopment.