Experts say Plaza Tower would be perfect for Air BnBs

Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 5:28 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An agent for developer Joe Jaeger says potential buyers are already expressing interest in purchasing one of New Orleans’ tallest buildings less than 24 hours after the deteriorating Plaza Tower hit the market.

Workers were back on top of the Plaza Tower the day after the announcement (Feb. 15) shoring up netting designed to prevent portions of the building from falling to the ground below.

With the protective netting shored up, Jaeger’s real estate agent Lenny Wormser says he’s confident of a sale soon.

“If you take advantage of the tax credit, you could almost buy the building for free because of tax credits of up to $25 or $30 million,” said Lenny Wormser, with HREC Investments.

Potential buyers are reportedly looking at multiple uses for the 44-story tower. It was the tallest building in Louisiana when it was completed in 1968. Designed by Leonard Spangenberg, Plaza Tower is considered architecturally and historically significant.

“Spangenburg was a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright and the building has a lot of his principles in it,” said architect-developer Peter Trapolin.

Preservation veterans say the long-neglected property needs a lot of work and potential buyers must do their due diligence.

“Structurally first, and then you would have to do some early schematic designs and get some initial pricing as to what it would cost and to see whether it’s financially viable,” said Trapolin.

Real estate experts say the building could be a natural for Air BnBs, especially since the city has been encountering resistance from residential areas that don’t want them in their neighborhoods.

“It’s got the best views in the city of New Orleans because there’s a five-story height limit in the warehouse district. No one will ever block those views and you have the Superdome,” said Wormser.

The Downtown Development District is eager to see a new buyer come in and restore this long-vacant property and rejuvenate a section of the CBD that needs a lift by utilizing new incentives which are now before congress.

“We’re working with legislators in hopes of Congress passing a ‘revitalizing downtown bill,’ which would provide tax credits for these developments,” said DDD Public Policy Director Alexis Kyman.

Downtown real estate is hot, with several new buildings recently constructed and rapidly filling up.

With state and federal tax credits amounting to nearly 40% of construction costs, Wormser is confident that a new buyer can put together a package that would help restore this long-blighted property and make it an asset in a section of the CBD that they believe is ripe for redevelopment.

Trapolin says Air BnB development could be a big part of the Plaza Tower’s future. He says the return on investment for such properties is nearly double what you can get if you rebuild as apartments.

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