Domain starts work on downtown N.O. project

Work has started on the first phase of The South Market District, a $200 million mixed-use development that will take up four blocks in downtown New Orleans.

The Domain Companies, a development firm with offices in New Orleans and New York, said it has secured financing for the project. The South Market District will encompass an area that runs along both sides of Girod Street, from Loyola Avenue to Baronne Street.

The South Market District will be a mix of luxury apartments, retail space, restaurants and entertainment venues. The first phase is The Paramount, a $48.4 million building that will include 209 apartments and 22,000 square feet of retail space.

Construction of The Paramount should be completed by December 2014, the company said. The five-story building will take up the city block bordered by Girod, S. Rampart, Lafayette and O’Keefe streets. The retail space will be on the ground floor, along with a lobby and concierge desk for Paramount tenants.

Domain said it wants to attract people who work in New Orleans’ knowledge-based economy. The apartments will feature a range of amenities from an interior courtyard and resort-style pool to allowing tenants to make rent payments online and a “MyDomain” rewards program. “South Market will create the type of mixed-use district, with high-quality housing proximate to employment, public transportation, amenities and services, that is needed to support the growth and diversification of New Orleans’ economy,” Matt Schwartz, principal of The Domain Companies, said in a news release. “The retail, apartments and overall planning of the District is unlike anything that exists downtown today.”

Domain said it will start working on the second phase of The South Market District in the fall, a $20 million building that will contain 25,000 square feet of retail and 435 parking spots. That building will be at the corner of Girod and O’Keefe. Work will start on the final two spots in 2014 and 2015. That will include residential units and retail space. When completed, the development will have more than 600 apartment units and 170,000 square feet of retail space.

Oak Grove Capital provided a $38.3 million loan insured through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 220 Program to help cover part of the development costs for The Paramount. IberiaBank provided $3.2 million in letters of credit, and the Industrial Development Board of the city of New Orleans, working with the New Orleans Business Alliance, provided a 12-year payment in lieu of taxes arrangement to help facilitate the project.

“We are tremendously excited to support such a catalytic project for downtown New Orleans,” Rodrick Miller, president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance, said in a statement. “South Market District is a true representation of the sort of retail and real estate investments we need in order to continue to prosper as a city.”

“The Loyola Avenue corridor downtown is undergoing a complete transformation and South Market District will play a critical role,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu, said in a statement. “In the last two years, we have welcomed the Hyatt Regency, Rouses Market, the Loyola Avenue streetcar to the area, and now with the addition of South Market District, this neighborhood will truly be a premier place to live, work and shop and a spectacular gateway to the sports and entertainment district. This project is another example of a strong public-private partnership that will deliver new jobs, new tax revenue, new development and new energy in downtown New Orleans.”