Audit: State paying higher than market rates at Benson Tower

The state of Louisiana appears to be paying higher than market rates for office space near the Superdome in New Orleans.

In 2009, the State of Louisiana and the New Orleans Saints reached an agreement that would keep the NFL franchise in New Orleans through 2025. As part of the agreement, the state agreed to

furnish up to $85 million toward the cost of improvements to the Superdome and Saints owner Tom Benson agreed to buy the vacant Dominion Tower and lease office space back to the state.

A new legislative audit found that the tower is paying up to $25 per square foot to rent office space at Benson Tower.

Current available listing shows other office space for rent at Benson Tower between $18-19 per square foot. The Benson Town lease costs the state nearly twice as much as prior leases in other buildings.

The audit found that 24,872 square feet of state office space at Benson Tower is vacant at an annual cost of $624,784. Lease costs, including amounts paid for vacant space, have nearly doubled since 2010 and exceed current market rates for comparable properties in the New Orleans area. 

The audit also states that the state may have spent additional money in an effort to retain the Saints in Louisiana.

To view the full audit, click here. 

Tom Benson owns the Saints as well as FOX 8.

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