Downtown N.O. construction, redevelopment resurgence continues

Gravier at Carondelet (FOX 8 photo)
Gravier at Carondelet (FOX 8 photo)

It's a race to the finish for workers at 211 Carondelet Street.

On Tuesday, they hammered and sanded away on the bottom floor of the new 220-room AC Hotel by Marriott. It's a $12 million historic redevelopment – one of several ongoing projects in close proximity near the heart of downtown.

"There's a huge influx in construction in the downtown area, this block particularly," said AC Hotel General Manager Melisa Kennedy. "It's exciting. There's a huge growth and vibrant feeling in this part of the city."

In areas like the Gravier and Common streets corridors, downtown development leaders say several hundred hotel rooms are coming on-line, along with nearly 1,000 residential units.

The vast majority of work throughout the CBD is redevelopment of historic properties.

"We keep track of all the vacant, underutilized property downtown, and just within the last year, almost 20 percent of that has been spoken for. That means it's been financed, it's started construction," said Downtown Development District President Kurt Weigle. "That means that in the next five years, we could very well run out of historic properties downtown to the redevelop."

However, there's also new construction like the Paramount and South Market District - more than 200 residential units and 22,000 feet of retail and restaurant space along O'Keefe and S. Rampart.

With so many work zones come some challenges.

"I think anyone who has driven downtown recently knows that we have growing pains. Sometimes it can be a challenge getting around downtown with all the construction, but I'm really happy, I'm gratified that folks understand that's part of the process," Weigle said.

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