Sunday, July 19, 2015


A few months back, the Convention Center Brahmins announced plans to spend at least $175 million in public funds to jumpstart development of a new "neighborhood" of luxury condos and hotels along the riverfront.
The Central Business District. The Warehouse District. The Lower Garden District.
And now, introducing, the Trade District.

A group of developers have presented an ambitious vision for a shiny new neighborhood on the riverfront with an MGM Grand hotel, more than 1,400 residences, blocks of retail and restaurants, and a towering needle-like sculpture for lofty views of the Mississippi River.

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which owns the vacant land, is in talks with the Howard Hughes Corp., owner of the Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, and local real estate moguls Darryl Berger and Joe Jaeger on becoming master developer for the site.
This week we learned that Jaeger may be about to append one more valuable piece of property to that territory. 
The Market Street power plant, an idle behemoth with hulking twin smokestacks sitting on 20 acres of riverfront property near the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, will go up for public auction this fall, according to records on file with the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The property’s owner, Market Street Properties LLC, apparently was not able to meet the terms of a reorganization plan hashed out in bankruptcy court. So the company’s mortgage lender has decided to foreclose on the plant, a move that could clear the way for other development ideas after years of stalled plans.

The Sheriff’s Office this week began the process of notifying the attorneys for Market Street Properties that Victoria Land & Development LLC has filed a writ of seizure and sale against it.
The auction is set for Sept. 24.

Market Street Properties owes at least $15 million in principal, interest and fees to Victoria Land & Development for payments related to two mortgage loans, according to court filings.

John Mannone, a member of the management committee for Market Street Properties, did not return a call Friday seeking comment.

It is not clear whether Victoria Land & Development intends to bid on the property itself. The company’s head, developer Joseph Jaeger Jr., also did not return a call. But Jaeger is part of a team of developers in talks to redevelop a large tract of land nearby.
As we've seen many times over, the primary policy objective in New Orleans is Build More Nice Things For Rich People And Tourists. All other concerns can wait in line behind that.  One reason building nice things for rich people and tourists is so important is because that is how the currently rich and influential enhance their own wealth and influence.

To see this one need only take note of the names appended to any major project announced in the paper and see how often they are repeated.

 Recently, in Mid-City:
Ultimately, he added, the development would support “high-end living” on the bayou near the city’s burgeoning medical district, where the new University Medical Center and Veteran Affairs Medical Center are getting ready to open. He also envisions the property acting as a residential connector between downtown and City Park.

“When people ride their bikes from the French Quarter to the bayou, or even to Lakeview, I look at this as the welcoming point,” Torres said. “It would really help revamp that area of Orleans, where it’s lacking in development.”

So far, Torres’ plans take in only 3 or 4 acres of the 9-acre property. He’s looking for proposals for the rest of the land, along with partners Joseph Jaeger, owner of MCC Group, and Hicham Khodr, the man behind Camellia Grill.
Torres, Jaeger, Khodr.

Here's Torres and Khodr again.
Developer Sidney Torres IV and restaurateur Hicham Khodr have formed a joint venture to purchase the New Orleans Board of Trade property in the Central Business District, reports CityBusiness.

According to the Orleans Parish conveyance records, the transaction closed last week at a sales price of $3 Million.

The building has been used primarily as a wedding and events venue, with PigĂ©on Catering as the catering partner.  The building also houses the offices for the Board of Trade.
That was Torres's first transaction since...
For Torres, the deal is the first major transaction he has made in the city since selling three boutique hotels in the French Quarter and Marigny to developer Joe Jaeger a year ago.
Torres and Khodr also cut Berger in on this one

They just go round and round like that.  The city's real estate is constantly carved up and sold back and forth amongst a core group of local oligarchs.

There are others to name; Mike Motwani, Pres Kabacoff and a few more. Tom Benson specializes in one sector especially but it's a very lucrative one. The most important thing to know about all of them, though, is that their empires are, in various ways, heavily supported and subsidized by public funds and public policymakers. That's worth remembering the next time you hear one of them lecture you about his entitlement to whatever he wants to do with that property your money and your elected representatives have acquired for him.

It's also good to know where these properties are. The oligarchs are always in business with one another so their territories often overlap.  But, from time to time, we can identify fiefdoms.. like Jaeger's expanding Trade District, where one of them seems to be dominant. This is a particularly muddled picture in the French Quarter where several of them have overlapping interests. But since Sidney Torres owns the police there now, we should probably consider him first among equals for the time being.  We identified Kabacoffia last week.

Anyway, I've started working  on a map. There's more to do but here's what I've got so far.

Yeah it's just the big ones downtown right now. I'll try to keep updating and filling it in as opportunities arise.

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