NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Developers of a new downtown golf facility have laid out a timetable for construction that includes a time frame for destruction of a longtime journalistic landmark.
As the old Times-Picayune building continues to crumble along the Pontchartrain Expressway, developers talk about its future.
“As you’re driving down the Pontchartrain Expressway, this will be a nice new landmark,” said Miles Granderson with the Drive Shack development team.
What used to be a building that produced a product that kept generations informed is now a structure where graffiti artists practice their own brand of urban communication.
“It’s sad on so many levels. So many people I worked with aren’t there any more,” said longtime staffer and current NOLA.com | Times-Picayune contributor John Pope.
By mid-December, developers say the building will be gone, too. Drive Shack, a mega golf facility, will take its place, consisting of a three-story driving range as well as restaurants and meeting rooms. The $25 million facility will be funded in part by a special 2 percent sales tax that will help defray demolition and construction costs.
“Seventy-five percent of that will go to reimburse the developer, and 25 percent to the City of New Orleans for developing around that area,” said Granderson.
That will include road improvements and signage to help people find the facility that will replace a building that once housed a staff who chronicled the city for 46 years, winning multiple Pulitzers along the way.
“You never knew what would happen. There were great characters, reporters and editors who could take my raw notes and turn them into spun gold,” said Pope.
John Pope had a lifetime of experience at the newspaper. He met his wife while working there, interviewed Lena Horne, documented the AIDS epidemic and helped garner dozens of awards.
“When we won two Pulitzers in ’97, one for Walt Handlesman, we had champagne and the Rebirth Brass Band,” said Pope.
Though the planned demolition is emotional for many, longtime staffers like Pope said it’s inevitable.
“It’s like a horse that’s seen its last day. Just put it out of its misery,” said Pope.
Before the City Council Thursday, Granderson laid out the timetable.
“The final two approvals will come at November 29th and December 6th council meetings if everything goes as planned,” he said.
Developers say demolition will begin soon afterward on a building that for many was more than bricks and mortar.
“It was always a challenge to do the best we could, and we had great editors to egg us on and keep digging,” said Pope.
And though the building will soon be replaced, for many, the memories will never fade.
Drive Shack will be huge, consisting of 92,000 square feet of space. Its developers hope to open sometime in 2020.
NOLA.com | The Times Picayune now works out of multiple locations, including one in the Warehouse District.