NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The former Warwick Hotel has been sitting abandoned in the heart of the Central Business District since Hurricane Katrina. But now, after more than a decade of falling into blight, the 12-story building is finally slated for renovation.
Situated on a prime piece of real estate, city leaders say redevelopment is long overdue.
Cullan Maumus, of the New Orleans Redevelopment Fund, said the Gravier Street property is a landmark, even in its state of disrepair.
“I think it’s one of the last remaining symbols of blight existing from Hurricane Katrina,” Maumus said.
Built as an apartment building, Maumus said the Gravier Street property was converted to a hotel in the 1960s. Over the last six months, eight 311 complaints have been filed on the 1315 Gravier Street property. Residents cited concerns over safety, unsecured doors and windows, squatters, trash and overall disrepair.
Maumus said he’s had his eye on the property for the last few years.
“Our goal is really to take this blighted priority and turn it into a redeveloped asset in this part of the city,” Maumus said. “One, its location in the CBD, right here at Duncan Plaza, and then the charity hospital footprint in the district. But they continued growth and expansion in the CBD in the development of the hospitals.”
With the help of a new fund created to invest in areas with potential, historical tax credits, NORF purchased the property with plans for a mixed use facility.
“The ground floor should be retail, some kind of retail component. Floors two through 12 will have some sort of residential component. We hope to be able to make announcements in the coming weeks," Maumus said.
Kurt Weigle, the president and CEO of Downtown Development District, said the plan for the property falls in line with his own vision.
“We are thrilled it’s going to be developed,” Weigle said. “The DDD has a long-term agreement with the city to develop and operate the plaza as a world-class park so, clearly having a strong used like new apartments or a new hotel on one of the edges of this new Duncan Plaza is important for us moving Duncan Plaza forward."
What’s more, Weigle said there’s high demand for living in the heart of the city, with apartment occupancy at nearly 94 percent. Both he and Maumus agree, with more and more growth creeping towards this side of Loyola Avenue, a project like NORF’s could be crucial in fostering the necessary symbiotic relationship between development and commerce.
“A catalyst, not only for this building and what’s going to happen here with Charity Hospital, but also the redevelopment here at Duncan plaza,” Maumus said. “And we hope this can be a sign, a symbol, of the regrowth that’s happening in the CBD.”
Maumus said he hopes to have the facility open by 2021.