BY CHAD CALDER
Advocate business writer
March 15, 2013
The team redeveloping the Commerce Building at Third and Laurel streets downtown has begun distributing to prospective commercial tenants images of what the building might look like when built out with ground floor retail and a rooftop restaurant.
The package indicates the building will have 92 loft apartments, a rooftop fitness center, a third-floor private events deck and a rooftop infinity edge pool.
Michael Lang, the project’s development manager and partner in the team lead by New Orleans developer T.J. Iarocci, said the goal is still to have one or possibly two retailers in the 7,300 square feet of ground-floor retail — preferably a grocery store — and a 5,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant.
Lang said Iarocci is looking for tenants that will support not only the needs of the Commerce Building renters, but downtown’s office workers and residents as well. He said getting the commercial spaces leased first and early will help designers Eskew+Dumez+Ripple of New Orleans create a final design that is unique and cohesive.
“We’re trying to ingrain a high level of design throughout the whole project, and that comes from paying attention to the history of the building and bringing in … commercial tenants that want the same level of quality for their users.”
Lang said bringing commercial tenants on board first also will help the $22 million revamp of the building accommodate their needs. For example, a grocery store may need a delivery or loading bay in a particular spot.
Lang said the group has been in talks with local and regional restaurants and are looking for someone to bring in a signature experience similar to what Tsunami has done on the roof of the Shaw Center for the Arts.
Lang said the Commerce Building will have 35 interior parking spaces for the commercial tenants after providing spaces for the residents.
He said the project is still on track to start construction by the end of the year and will likely begin pre-leasing for the apartments about six months before its completion, which is scheduled for the end of 2014.