The city-owned area around the Piazza d’Italia monument on Poydras Street is ripe for redevelopment as a mixed-use complex that would potentially include a hotel, restaurant, residences and retail space, developers said in proposals submitted to the city.
A call for qualified applicants interested in developing two city-owned parking lots next to the monument to the city’s Italian community drew five responses by last week’s deadline. The proposals were made public Thursday.
Unlike the numerous groups that responded to the city’s request last year for redevelopment ideas for the former World Trade Center building a few blocks away, none of the applicants for the Piazza site is from New Orleans.
A joint venture of Carter, Majestic Realty Co. and Oakwood Development has proposed a “sleek and sophisticated” development with 282 residential units, retail and entertainment components and possibly a boutique hotel.
All three of the companies are based in Atlanta. Carter is a real estate investment and development firm. Majestic owns or operates about 70 million square feet of industrial, office, hospitality, entertainment, retail and sports projects. Oakwood is a real estate advisory firm that focuses on revitalizing urban communities.
Developer ICD Sitra and investors Crowninvest LLC and Operadora de Servicios para Hoteles de Lujo, or OSHL, have proposed a two-tower complex with a 355-room “lifestyle” hotel in one tower and a 155-room select-service hotel in the other. The proposal also calls for a 20,000-square-foot convention center, retail space and perhaps space for a “NOCCA center” and a “Jam School.”
The developer and investors say they are part of a hotel construction management consortium that has completed more than 50 real estate projects worldwide.
Chrysolite Management Group LLC of Kingsport, Tennessee, has proposed a Hard Rock hotel with amenities including a kids’ club and a restaurant. Chrysolite is primarily a commercial and residential rental property management company.
The Finch Group has proposed a 156-room moderately priced specialty hotel, 152 condominiums, a 200-space parking garage and retail space. The plan also calls for a full-service stand-alone restaurant and another restaurant to serve the hotel directly. The Boca Raton, Florida-based Finch Group develops, owns or manages various hospitality, commercial and affordable or market-rate residential properties.
Finally, Knightsbridge Hospitality LLC has proposed a Vib-branded hotel and condominiums. In addition to the hotel, Knightsbridge would construct a Blue Dog Cafe restaurant and lounge at the site.
The founder and president of Knightsbridge is part of an ownership group that owns and operates two Best Western International properties in Louisiana and Texas.
The proposals came in response to a request for qualifications only and are less detailed than those typically submitted after a request for proposals.
The proposals contemplate the redevelopment of about 56,000 square feet of space on two sites. A 150-space surface parking lot now occupies the site at 542 Tchoupitoulas St., which is bounded by the Piazza d’Italia and Poydras, Tchoupitoulas and Lafayette streets. The other site, at 545 S. Peters St., at the intersection of South Peters and Lafayette streets, is a 28-space parking lot.
In its request for qualifications, the city boasted that the site is a prime location to attract tourists and residents and suggested a hotel, luxury residences, retail and professional offices, all with “entertainment components and other related amenities,” as potential uses for the site.
The city issued the request in May shortly after finalizing a lease agreement for redevelopment of the long-vacant former World Trade Center building.
City officials said then they hoped to capitalize on the national interest that project drew. The former WTC building is being converted into a Four Seasons Hotel and condominiums.
The Piazza d’Italia was designed by renowned post-modern architect Charles Moore and the local firm Perez & Associates as a tribute to the contributions made by Italian-Americans to the city’s culture.
The site, marked by grand columns and arches, was dedicated in 1978 and was quickly hailed as an architectural masterpiece. But it has deteriorated over the years as several efforts to develop the city-owned land surrounding it failed.
It was restored in 2004 after the adjacent Lykes Bros. office building was converted into the Loews Hotel.
The hotel continues to maintain the site as a condition of its right to operate on city-owned property.
The winning developer in the current process would share in that responsibility.
The Piazza d’Italia is overseen by public-benefit Canal Street Development Corp., which has recently begun renovating it.
A selection committee will evaluate the five responses and place the “most qualified respondents” on a short list. Those parties will be invited to submit full proposals.
The selection committee, which has not yet been appointed, will evaluate those proposals and select one applicant to sign a lease with the city for the site.
The city hopes to have a lease agreement for up to 99 years in place by the first quarter of 2016.