pie chart revenue source

pie chart revenue source

State Government Expenditures Exceed Revenues for the Third Time in the Last Four Years 

“A large part of the decrease in the federal grants revenue was due to the temporary nature of funding provided through federal stimulus money beginning in mid-2009,” said Lisa Blumerman, chief of the Census Bureau’s Governments Division. “The 2012 Census of Governments captures the third fiscal year since the beginning of the infusion of stimulus money.”

General revenues for state governments were $1.6 trillion in 2012, a 1.8 percent decrease from $1.7 trillion in 2011, according to the latest findings on state government finances from the U.S. Census Bureau. General expenditures by state governments fell 0.5 percent in 2012 to $1.6 trillion, down from $1.7 trillion in 2011. This is third time in the last four years that general expenditures have exceeded revenues.

A major contributor to the fall in general revenue was declining funding from federal grants.  Federal grants to states totaled $514.2 billion, down 10.7 percent from $575.8 billion in 2011. (Federal grants make up 31.6 percent of states’ general revenue.)


states taxes and federal funding

states taxes and federal funding

Total revenue, which includes general revenues and social insurance trust revenue such as unemployment compensation funds, fell 15.6 percent to $1.9 trillion in 2012 (down from $2.3 trillion in 2011).

The findings are from the 2012 Census of Governments: Finance – Survey of State Government Finances, which shows revenues, expenditures, debt, and cash and security holdings for each state as well as a national summary of state government finances.

state unemployment expense and revenue

state unemployment expense and revenue

The decline in total revenue in 2012 was mainly due to the $323.0 billion decrease in social insurance trust revenue. Social insurance trust systems showed revenues of $263.7 billion in 2012, a drop of 55.1 percent from $586.7 billion in 2011. These systems are mainly composed of state employee retirement systems and state social insurance trust systems, including those for unemployment compensation and workers’ compensation.

Louisiana's budget showing revenues and expenses compared to the United States

SGF001:   Louisiana vs. United States Government Finances: 2012

2012   Annual Survey of State Government Finances
State Government Finances: 2012
(Amounts in thousands)
Item United   States Louisiana
Total   Revenue 1,912,253,172 26,942,887
  General Revenue 1,627,804,381 25,336,717
    Intergovernmental Revenue 533,699,688 11,213,427
      From Federal 514,181,193 11,136,334
      From Local 19,518,495 77,093
    Total Taxes 798,221,675 8,994,053
      General Sales and Gross Receipts Taxes 245,316,442 2,815,919
      Selective Sales and Gross Receipts   Taxes 132,225,287 2,072,935
      License Taxes 54,090,961 402,212
      Individual Income Taxes 280,672,114 2,474,606
      Corporation Net Income Taxes 41,982,048 290,389
      All Other Taxes 43,934,823 937,992
    Current Charges 172,925,777 2,705,838
    Miscellaneous General Revenue 122,957,241 2,423,399
  Utility Revenue 13,616,484 7,269
  Liquor Stores Revenue 7,114,248 0
  Insurance Trust Revenue (1) 263,718,059 1,598,901
    Unemployment Compensation Systems 80,109,746 273,116
    State-Administered Pension Systems 160,510,446 1,021,648
    Workers' Compensation Systems 15,526,364 65,446
    Other Insurance Trust Systems 7,571,503 238,691
Total   Expenditure 1,976,789,593 31,685,604
  Intergovernmental Expenditure 481,204,347 6,387,767
  Direct Expenditure 1,495,585,246 25,297,837
    Current Operations 986,417,347 17,541,289
    Capital Outlay 117,741,012 2,435,093
    Insurance Benefits and Repayments 301,460,223 3,920,302
    Assistance and Subsidies 40,079,600 497,590
    Interest on Debt 49,887,064 903,563
  Exhibit: Salaries and Wages 250,994,694 4,230,457
  General Expenditure 1,645,819,643 27,760,070
    Intergovernmental General Expenditure 481,204,347 6,387,767
    Direct General Expenditure 1,164,615,296 21,372,303
General   Expenditure, by Function:
  Education 588,708,137 8,998,450
  Public Welfare 489,201,919 6,300,387
  Hospitals 68,547,769 1,949,705
  Health 61,243,727 567,016
  Highways 113,552,361 1,922,374
  Police Protection 14,251,739 368,657
  Correction 48,438,866 729,887
  Natural Resources 21,933,708 705,161
  Parks and Recreation 5,640,062 336,734
  Governmental Administration 52,826,730 895,022
  Interest on General Debt 47,326,011 903,563
  Other and Unallocable 134,148,614 4,083,114
Utility   Expenditure 23,902,016 5,232
Liquor   Stores Expenditure 5,607,711 0
Insurance   Trust Expenditure 301,460,223 3,920,302
  Unemployment Compensation Systems 95,317,830 524,806
  State-Administered Pension Systems 188,413,250 3,218,454
  Workers' Compensation Systems 10,923,109 44,558
  Other Insurance Trust Systems 6,806,034 132,484
Debt   Outstanding, Long Term and Short Term 1,147,933,947 15,415,488
Cash   and Security Holdings 3,682,741,156 54,756,719

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 Census of Governments: Finance - Survey of State Government Finances.

Yes there is a National Research Center. They partnered with Ohio State to study how analysts' earnings changes affected stock performance. Bottom line is if market is in the dumps, poor earnings estimates by analysts don't affect stocks as much as when in a up market.


citybusiness logoPartially complete Bedico Creek up for sale

1:00 am Fri, October 31, 2008 POSTED: 01:00 AM Friday, October 31, 2008 BY: CityBusiness staff reports

METAIRIE – Bedico Creek, a golf and country club development in Madisonville, is back on the market because of foreclosure, said Robert Hand, president of Louisiana Commercial Realty who was marketing the property.

Robert Hand, president of Louisiana Commercial Realty

Robert Hand, president of Louisiana Commercial Realty


Sealed bids are due Nov. 28. The 938-acre site south of Interstate 12 on Highway 1085 was in the middle of development when it went into foreclosure. The property includes a 211-acre partially completed golf course, 45 improved lots on 63 acres, 10.8 acres for commercial development, 317 undeveloped residential acres with 823 additional lots approved, 1.6-acre sewer treatment plant and water well and 334 acres wetland conservation easement. Nine holes of the golf course, constructed by SEMA Golf, are completed.

Residential lots were completed in two phases. Phase 1-A includes 59 lots, of which 42 were sold to developers who constructed homes in the $400,000 to $800,000 price range. Phase 1-B includes 50 lots, of which 22 were sold to developers. The phases have public utilities, natural gas and telephone service. Water and sewage are provided by a private well and sewage treatment facility.

Bedico Creek November 2009

Bedico Creek November 2009

Audubon Building’s new owner plans boutique hotel

4:04 pm Wed, June 2, 2010 POSTED: 04:04 PM Wednesday, June 2, 2010 BY: CityBusiness staff reports TAGS: Audubon Building, Mark Wyant,  Robert Hand

931 Canal Street

931 Canal Street

A former condo project along the Canal Street corridor is being converted into what the developer calls an “upscale boutique” hotel. The eight-story structure at the corner of Burgundy Street next to the Ritz Carlton will become the 180-room Hotel Indigo.

Louisiana Commercial Realty president Robert Hand, announced the finalized sale of 931 Canal St. to Mark Wyant for an undisclosed amount today. According to an online flier published in July, the property was appraised and listed for sale at $7.85 million. Published reports indicate it sold for $5.5 million.


Originally built in 1909 and known as the Audubon Building, the 131,000-square-foot layout will include a fitness center, Phi Bar & Bistro, and an on-site casual gourmet restaurant. Previous plans to turn the property into a Hilton hotel never materialized.

According to a release from Louisiana Commercial Realty, the foreclosed property had been vacant for more than three years when the company began marketing the property in last July. Wyant reportedly qualified for between $3 million and $5 million in state and federal credits to complete the purchase as a result of the building’s historic status.

Property value disputes delay eastern N.O. stores

8:51 am Thu, March 31, 2011 POSTED: 08:51 AM Thursday, March 31, 2011 BY: Ben Myers, Reporter New Orleans City Business TAGS: Associated Wholesale Grocers, Charles Ciaccio, David Smith, Fresh Food Retail Initiative, Karen Parsons, Lake Terrace Center, Meme's Market, Oak Park Civic Association, Re/Max Commercial Brokers, Robert Hand, Social Compact

Grocer Charles Ciaccio says he has signed a lease to open a store at the defunct Lake Terrace Center, a key commercial intersection in Gentilly. Residents who live near the site at Robert E. Lee Boulevard and Paris Avenue have been frustrated with its dilapidated state, but the deal is notable even if Ciaccio’s store never opens.

It shows that, in at least one circumstance, a landlord and grocer can agree to terms in an underserved area of New Orleans. That’s notable in a city where 53 percent of the neighborhoods contain “food deserts,” according to a 2010 study by Social Compact, a national nonprofit business coalition. The study is the most recent to analyze food barriers for New Orleans residents.

Diagnosing New Orleans’ food barriers is impossible in certain terms, but speaking with grocers and developers suggests a fundamental disagreement over property values.

David Smith, director of merchandising and marketing for Associated Wholesale Grocers, said members are complaining that prices are detached from reality, whether negotiations pertain to lease or purchase deals. That’s especially true in eastern New Orleans, where landowners are consistently demanding pre-Hurricane Katrina prices and more, Smith said.

“I don’t know if they in their right mind have just convinced themselves their property is worth more,” Smith said. “If nothing has actually sold or nothing has actually leased in many, many years and everybody else is asking a high price, you might likewise set your asking price very high.”

Wade Verges, a developer in eastern New Orleans, said he’s aware of the complaints, but that proprietors are undervaluing the area’s potential. People are looking for steals, he said.

“When they realize the East is a viable market and they can’t steal, then they say everybody wants too much money,” Verges said.

A Lake Terrace store would serve multiple food deserts the Social Compact study identified, but Gentilly doesn’t suffer the same dearth of grocery stores as eastern New Orleans, where one major store serves 64,310 people. Demand for a grocery store in eastern New Orleans outpaces supply by 64.2 percent when measured in retail potential versus sales, according to a retail feasibility study conducted by Robert Hand with New Orleans based Louisiana Commercial Realty.

Market values in eastern New Orleans are hard to determine, Hand said, because of the array of available land, which comes with and without structures in all kinds of conditions. Hand knows sellers who are asking pre-Katrina prices, but he also points to data showing that land sales in the area are occurring at about 84 percent of their list price, which he said is reasonable.

“Are prices in New Orleans East too high? That depends,” Hand said. “It’s not answerable, because compared to what?”

Much more needs to happen before a store opens at Lake Terrace Center. Ciaccio said lease payments won’t begin until property owner Kenneth Charity completes interior and exterior improvements, after which time Ciaccio would build 14,000 square feet of grocery space.

Charity received scrutiny in January 2010 when local news organization The Lens reported he had not made any progress at Lake Terrace after receiving $162,500 in economic development grants from former Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration.

Charity did not return calls for comment.

Ciaccio is not the only grocer who says he has worked with Charity on opening a grocery store. Carlo Coniglio, who operated Meme’s Market at Canal Boulevard and Robert E. Lee for 20 years before Katrina, said Charity reached out to him about three years ago, shortly after Charity paid $1.35 million for Lake Terrace. Coniglio said Charity asked for $25 a square foot, which he regarded as outlandish.

Ciaccio declined to discuss dollar amounts in his lease with Charity.

Ciaccio said he is seeking assistance from the city’s new Fresh Food Retail Initiative, a public-private partnership that offers low-interest and forgivable loans to grocers who open in underserved areas. Ciaccio said he has been watching the program for about a year but could have fashioned a deal at Lake Terrace without it.

Karen Parsons, president of the Oak Park Civic Association, credits the new incentive program for making it economically feasible to redevelop Lake Terrace, which is within her association’s boundaries. Charity “overpaid for the property in the post-Katrina market,” an error that, combined with the costs of rebuilding, has prevented an anchor tenant such as Ciaccio from signing on, she said.

“It’s very difficult to make all of that work from a business profit model,” Parsons said.

Announcing the 2012 Money Makers

6:00 am Thu, August 2, 2012 POSTED: 06:00 AM Thursday, August 2, 2012 BY: Christian Moises, News Editor New Orleans City Business

CityBusiness has announced its 2012 Money Makers honorees, recognizing 50 financial professionals whose fiscal work, accomplishments and achievements have not only set the pace for their company but the regions as a whole.

Leonard Alsfeld
Mary Margaret Brewer
David Capo
Don Celestin Jr.
Jack Dardis
Emmett Dupas
Octave Francis
Robert Hand
Ralph Leopold
Geary Mason
Cham Mehaffey
Tom Meyer
John Morgan
Rudy Revuelta
Howard Rodgers
Lain St. Paul
Jonathan Stewart
Diana Stieffel
Randy Waesche
George Young


Brad Calloway
Judy DeLucca
Marlene Laboureur
Christopher Maurer
Alton McRee
Mignhon Tourne
Mark Rosa
Donald Washington
Stephen Wessel

Alita Caparotta
Lew Derbes
David Fried
James Harp
Beth Johnson
Mark Joslin
Mary Lavalla
Christian Stuart
Steven Toups

Gary Bell
Scott Dessens
Gus Flattmann
Fred Johnson Jr.
Robert Kimbro
Shasta Leininger
Sandy Marlbrough
Ted Mason
Philip Rebowe
Allen Villarrubia
Ellen Yellin

Honorees will be recognized at an Oct. 10 luncheon at noon at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans and in a special insert in the Oct. 12 issue of CityBusiness.

Broker wants bargain price for Canal Street Hotel

2:39 pm Mon, August 13, 2012 POSTED: 02:39 PM Monday, August 13, 2012 BY: Ben Myers, Reporter New Orleans City Business TAGS: Canal Street Plaza Hotel, Matt Garafolo, Robert Hand, Suites at New Orleans LLC, U.S. Hotel Appraisals

Updated: 10:30 a.m., Aug. 15

At least one broker believes the owner of the Canal Street Plaza Hotel is asking far too much to sell the property.

Robert Hand said multiple clients have submitted  offers, most recently last month, but the offers have not been entertained. Suites at New Orleans LLC is asking $8 million after lowering its price twice since October, when it was listed at $10.5 million. Hand said his clients have since moved on.

Hand did not disclose his clients’ identities or offers, but he said the property is worth about $4.5 million based on potential operating revenue.

U.S. Hotel Appraisals valued the property at $9.8 million in March 2011, although the appraisal assumed the building is fully compliant with public safety laws. Hand said the building needs a new sprinkler system to meet fire codes, violations of which resulted in the city closing the hotel three years ago.

The sprinkler system would cost between $500,000 and $1 million, Hand said, adding that the building needs roughly $3.5 million in overall investment to open as a $75-per-night hotel. The appraisal calls for capital investment of $232,000 in minor renovations.

Listing agent Matt Galafaro acknowledged the building needs work to become code compliant but said the current asking price reflects the needs.

Hand’s estimation of the market value is naturally skewed in his client’s favor, Galafaro said, adding that an assumption of $75 per night does not factor the nearby LSU/VA hospital developments. Rates will “skyrocket” after 2015 when the hospitals are complete, he said.

“The buyer is obviously trying to acquire the property for as little as possible,” Galafaro said.

More than $900,000 in back taxes are owed on the property, though Galafaro said this would be cleared prior to closing.

NOTE: After this article appeared online, city spokesman Ryan Berni explained that the hotel was closed for delinquent property taxes, and a subsequent multi-agency inspection turned up a list of code violations that would need to be addressed before it could reopen. Nola.com reported at the time that a Orleans Civil Court judge permitted the city to proceed with turning off utilities as a result of code violations. Former Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration issued a statement one day before the nola.com report urging the owners to close voluntarily because of unsafe conditions, and threatening to pursue “all legal remedies” if they did not comply.

Speculators could be behind NOLA commercial property bump

12:57 pm Fri, November 16, 2012 POSTED: 12:57 PM Friday, November 16, 2012 BY: Ben Myers, Reporter New Orleans City Business TAGS: commercial property, New Orleans, office, retail

Office and retail space in the New Orleans region is moving with increased frequency, and many of the properties changing hands through sales and leases have lingered on the market for greater-than-normal periods of time, according to data provided by Louisiana Commercial Realty.

It suggests deep-pocketed speculators and other investors are diving into the distressed property market, which is a healthy sign for the local economy, Louisiana Commercial Realty owner Robert Hand said.

“These properties are not loved,” Hand said. “They are blighted properties that require lots of attention, maybe they are in a tough neighborhood. But somebody recently has come along and decided to speculate. Normally the banks won’t loan money for speculation. This tells us you probably have people with deeper pockets that have more equity.”

The average commercial property sold or leased in the New Orleans area in October had been on the market for more than 516 days, 50 percent longer than the average over the prior 12 months. The number of listings in the commercial sector also increased in October from 359 to 404.

Office listings also spiked last month, from 839 to 958. There were 23 office leases and sales, and they had been on the market an average of 637.4 days – nearly tripling the number of days of the previous month’s sales and leases. The asking lease and sales prices for office space were 3.7 and 4.5 percent below the 12-month average, respectively.

Q&A with Robert Hand, Louisiana Commercial Realty

4:55 pm Tue, November 20, 2012 POSTED: 04:55 PM Tuesday, November 20, 2012 BY: Ben Myers, Reporter New Orleans City Business TAGS: industrial, listings, Louisiana Commercial Realty, Louisiana Commercial Realty, New Orleans commercial real estate, office, retail, Robert Hand, speculator, speculators, vacant land

Office and retail space in the New Orleans region is moving with increased frequency, and many of the properties changing hands through sales and leases have lingered on the market for extended periods of time, according to data from Louisiana Commercial Realty.

That suggests deep-pocketed speculators and other investors are diving into the distressed property market, which Louisiana Commercial Realty owner Robert Hand considers a healthy sign for the local economy.

He dissected the data in a November 16 conversation with CityBusiness.

Can speculation be a problem if it’s just speculation only? It’s a healthy sign. What I am deducing is that these properties that have been on the market almost twice as long as normal is that these properties are not loved. They are blighted properties that require lots of attention. Maybe they are in a tough neighborhood.

But somebody recently has come along and decided to speculate and buy these things that previously were difficult properties. If they weren’t difficult properties, they wouldn’t have been on the market for very long. If we can rule out whether they were overpriced — and none of these that were transacted were overpriced compared to the last 12 months — that shows a healthy commercial market. It shows a healthier economy.

The asking office lease rate is dropping. Are lease rates simply dropping enough that they are stimulating movement? The properties that sold or leased were transacted at 15 percent below the list price, which is about average of what we’ve seen the last 12 months. The only unusual thing is the 

properties that were sold recently were on the market a lot longer than normal.

If you look at the asking lease price, it was $16.74 versus the last 12 months at $17.39. So of the properties that were leased or sold, it doesn’t appear they were overpriced. The lease and the asking price were both under the average.

Retail listings are up, as are days on the market for those sold or leased. Does this mean that space not previously in demand is moving because retail is expanding? People want the low-hanging fruit first. When property on the market for a long time finally starts being leased or sold, it means that speculators are coming into the market. That’s really a healthy sign.

People are willing to take risks. Normally the banks won’t loan money for speculation. This tells us you probably have people with deeper pockets that have more equity. They are willing to buy those blighted properties that up until now they weren’t.

Industrial property listings are increasing. Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market in the industrial sector? I still think it’s a buyer’s market in the industrial sector because you still have a lot of what I call elasticity. Of the additional supply that comes on the market, how does that affect price? What we are seeing people looking to buy and lease is still pretty price sensitive.

The average property leased in the industrial sector leased for $4.59 a square foot, which is down almost 50 percent from the 12-month average, which was $6.18 a square foot. Some of that depends on the area. Elmwood is $6, Mid-City is $4.50 and New Orleans East is $2.50. But on average what we saw recently was industrial properties that were leased at prices below the last 12 months.

There’s more vacant land available, both in the number of listings and millions of square feet. The days on the market are much fewer. What does that tell us? It’s not really a seller’s market because the prices are not higher than normal. Of the properties that were sold, they were sold 24 percent below the list price. Sometimes it’s just because land is hard to value.

It really depends on what you are going to use it for. You can have somebody that is going to put it in the gas station that makes it highly profitable, and they are willing to pay more for it than someone who is going to put in a parking lot.


Brokers predict deliberate progress on Tulane Avenue

1:13 pm Wed, May 15, 2013 POSTED: 01:13 PM Wednesday, May 15, 2013 BY: Robin Shannon, Reporter New Orleans City Business TAGS: Avery’s Po-Boys, Finn McCool’s, Greater Mid-City Business Association, Justin Pitard, Louisiana Commercial Realty, Pauline Patterson, Re/Max Commercial Brokers, Richard Juge, Robert Hand, Stephen Patterson, Treo, Tulane Avenue

Business owners along Tulane Avenue are optimistic that the 2-mile stretch between Carrollton and Loyola avenues is primed for redevelopment, with two billion-dollar hospital complexes on the rise and a $10 million streetscape project set to begin early next year.

2424 Tulane Avenue

2424 Tulane Avenue











Some Mid-City business owners are pushing for stronger code enforcement targeting motels along Tulane Avenue as construction of the University Medical Center and Veterans Affairs Hospital is expected to enhance development. But commercial real estate professionals say progress will be slow in coming.

Robert Hand, owner of Louisiana Commercial Realty, a brokerage firm that has been involved in several major real estate deals along Tulane Avenue, said limited inventory and an increase in demand have sent property values soaring along the corridor. Prices per square foot have jumped from $8 to $10 in 2007 to more than $40 in some areas today.

“There are property values on Tulane Avenue that are higher than parts of Veterans Boulevard in Metairie,” Hand said. “There was a time where no one wanted to buy anything out there. Now we have speculators coming in looking for places for new retail and multifamily complexes, which will be the biggest need.”

While demand for property is still high, Hand said higher prices will likely whittle out weak developments.

“It is going to take someone with a vision and a healthy bank account,” he said. “But that’s not to say people aren’t looking.”

Office forecast calls for continued high rent, occupancy

POSTED: 12:03 PM Wednesday, January 8, 2014
BY: Robin Shannon, Reporter
TAGS: Bruce Sossaman, CBD, commercial real estate, Corporate Realty, Louisiana Commercial Realty, Metairie, New Orleans, office, One Shell Square, Robert Hand, Robin Shannon, Shell, URS

Commercial real estate agents in the New Orleans area say the Metairie and Central Business District office markets will strengthen in 2014 as occupancy rates and average rents continue to increase in both areas.

Robert Hand, broker and owner of Louisiana Commercial Realty, said CBD office space remains a coveted commodity and available property is leaving the market at an increasingly quick pace.

“Toward the end of 2013, office space in Orleans Parish leased and sold faster than ever before,” said Hand. “Average days on the market plummeted from 274 days at the end of 2012 to 35 days at the end of 2013.”

Hand’s figures also noted a 54 percent increase in office property for sale in the CBD from 600,000 square feet available in 2012 to 922,000 available at the end of 2013. The additional space could start to pull tenants from Jefferson Parish, where occupancy rates and average rents are much higher, he said.

“Over the next couple of years, there is going to be much more demand for office space in Orleans Parish than there already is,” Hand said. “The CBD market is becoming a living community with residences and other amenities opening at a growing pace.”

Hand spent the closing months of 2013 analyzing the Orleans and Jefferson office sectors as part of his efforts to market a 75,000-square-foot space available for sublease at 1250 Poydras St. The space, which covers four floors in the building, has been available since 2010 after oil and gas company ENI left the city for Houston.

“It’s the largest block of space currently available in the city, and it is located right in the middle of the CBD,” Hand said. “My goal is to get a digital media or tech company into the space.”

According to Hand’s research, 1250 Poydras is one of only seven class A properties in the CBD with available office space exceeding 17,000 contiguous square feet. Lease rates range from $16.50 to $18.50 per square foot.

“Rates are on the rise in the CBD, but you are still getting somewhat of a bargain when you compare it to the more than $23 per square foot rate in Metairie,” Hand said.

Bruce Sossaman, leasing director for Corporate Realty, compiles his own office trends data. His information shows class A occupancy in the CBD grew from 85 percent in 2012 to 88 percent at the end of 2013, with a pair of major leases buoying those figures.

“In the fall, Shell Offshore, one of the city’s largest tenants, renewed its 10-year lease of more than 600,000 square feet of office space in One Shell Square two years early,” Sossaman said. “The company’s Gulf Coast headquarters will remain in the city through 2026.”

Also in 2013, the engineering firm URS moved from its headquarters at 600 Carondelet St., a class C building, into a space exceeding 42,000 square feet on the top two floors of 1515 Poydras St.

Sossaman said the URS upgrade is part of a trend he expects the city will see more of in 2014, with local and national companies starting to look for higher-quality properties.

“The last high-rise offices were built in the late 1980s, and the stock is starting to get old,” Sossaman said. “In the coming years, building owners are going to start improving what they have to attract new tenants. Available land remains a barrier of entry, and rents are not nearly high enough to spur any new office development. Residential conversions will continue to be the highest and best use for vacant property.”

One property ahead of the renovation trend is Lakeway Center in Metairie, where the ownership group recently renovated offices and installed new elevator systems in all three buildings. Sossaman said tenants are willing to pay more to have those types of amenities.

Sossaman said that although average rents in the CBD continue to be lower than those in Metairie, it is too early to say whether the city is pulling demand away from Jefferson Parish. He said the great equalizer will always be parking.

“That is a premium tenants will get in Metairie that they won’t always get in the CBD,” Sossaman said. “When you factor in the parking spots needed per 1,000 square feet leased in the CBD, price per square foot can increase by as much as $7.”

Reporter Robin Shannon can be reached at robin.shannon@nopg.com or @LSURob504

Sprawling apartments still trouble eastern N.O.

3:21 pm Tue, October 19, 2010 POSTED: 03:21 PM Tuesday, October 19, 2010 BY: David Muller, Staff Writer New Orleans City Business TAGS: Bern-Mas Apartments, eastern New Orleans, Eastern New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission, Graham Little, Greater New Orleans Multi-Family Housing Report, Jon Johnson, Lake Forest Shopping Center, Methodist Hospital, Mitch Landrieu, Robert Hand, Tangee Wall, Village de Jardin, Worthy Place Apartments

A Realtor trying to sell the largest apartment-zoned property in the metropolitan area said a new housing complex is just what eastern New Orleans needs to help bring businesses back to the area.

The only problem is those already living in the area are more concerned with apartment buildings that are still unoccupied and in disrepair since Hurricane Katrina.

Tangee Wall of the Eastern New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission said residents want more businesses and less multifamily housing in the area.

“A desire for our community would be to have businesses and community gardens (at the site),” Wall said.

The area already has an ample stock of apartment buildings, many of which are blighted.

“There are some that are in imminent danger of collapse and … those need to be demolished,” she said.

Robert Hand, an agent with Louisiana Commercial Realty, is listing the 10.2-acre site at Interstate 10 and Read Boulevard for $1.42 million. An empty concrete field is all that’s left of what used to be the Bern-Mas Apartments, which was destroyed during Katrina.

Hand insists eastern New Orleans residents are not necessarily against his project but the continued presence of blight, which consists mostly of abandoned apartment buildings in the area.

“The people in New Orleans East are not proponents of apartments because they don’t want to see dilapidated buildings,” Hand said. “So the real question that residents need to ask themselves, is do they want a vacant piece of land with tall grass where people will go and dump their trash, or do they want sparkling apartments that will bring people back?”

According to Hand’s analysis, there are 10 other apartment complexes ranging in size from 200 to 350 units within a five-minute drive of his property. Many of the apartments are Section 8 housing designated for low-income tenants receiving government subsidies.


Just west of the Bern-Mas site are the Worthy Place Apartments, a group of light-colored and nondescript rectangular structures. It and several other apartment buildings throughout eastern New Orleans have signs advertising vacancies. On nearby Cindy Place Drive, the streets are lined with empty and boarded-up apartment buildings, some of which are being gutted and many of which are in ill repair.apartment map

Coldwell Bankers Realtor Graham Little lists two of the properties. The 60-unit buildings, listed for $499,000, are fixable and will not be torn down, he said.

“We’re working with a number of developers now that can renovate the property,” Little said.

Apartment occupancy in eastern New Orleans was 80 percent according to the spring Greater New Orleans Multi-Family Housing Report from Madderra and Cazalot, Larry G. Schedler and Associates Inc. and the MultiFamily Advisory Group.

With available inventory and more construction proposed, the potential for an apartment glut has caught the attention of District E City Councilman Jon Johnson, who says multifamily housing in the area is not a priority.

“I think the push now is more toward single-family housing more than anything else,” he said.

Estimating the area’s population now at 65 percent to 75 percent of pre-Katrina levels, Johnson said his district still faces “basic family needs” such as schools, libraries, parks and grocery stores.

Hand said similar deals he has brokered in the past have spurred commercial development around them. He points to The Preserve and Crescent Club in Mid-City and the Marquis Apartments on Poydras Street. All three were built on the site of vacant commercial properties.

“These are developments that worked,” he said.

He said businesses are starting to come back to the area, and more will follow as new and renovated apartment projects are built. He points to the former Lake Forest Shopping Center and the redevelopment of Methodist Hospital.

In July, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced plans to buy the Methodist Hospital site for $16.25 million and to have a medical facility open its doors there within three years.

Hand also noted current construction of the $39.7 million Village de Jardin project. The 224-unit mixed-use senior housing center between Lake Forest Boulevard and Interstate 10 is expected to be complete in about six months.•

Louisiana Commercial Realty

Commercial Real Estate Experts
Robert Hand, MBA, CCIM, SIOR
Licensed in Louisiana & Mississippi
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