Plaza Tower (New Orleans)
The Plaza Tower (once referred to as Crescent City Towers and Crescent City Residences) is the third tallest building in both the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Used to house some businesses and mainly residences, this building was completed in 1969. However, due to neglect by the city and safety and health issues, the building was closed in 2002, slowly deteriorating more since then, especially when it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Since 2007 efforts were underway to buy and restore the building to it former glory. A well known landmark of the city's skyline, the building was bought in 2014, with plans to prepare it for either a convention center or residences, with an emphasis on the river front view.
Backstory and Context
In 2001, tenants began to publicly criticize the building's owners for ignoring worsening conditions in the building. Claims were made that a lack of proper maintenance had led to exposure to asbestos and toxic mold. Several class action lawsuits were filed by workers against the owners and managers and their own employers, the Louisiana Department of Social Services and Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. In 2002 approximately 700 Louisiana state and New Orleans District Attorney's Office employees relocated en masse to offices on Common Street. Since that time, the building has sat sealed off and unused.
The building has been unused since 2002 because of environmental problems such as toxic mold and asbestos. In March 2005, the Plaza Tower was purchased by Giannasca Development Group LLC for $4 million. The Giannasca Group planned a $120 million renovation to convert the office tower into a 197-unit condominium tower with an entirely new facade. However, after damage due to Hurricane Katrina, the group was involved in faulty appropriations of insurance money that had been issued after the storm, causing the group to sue one another and default on the mortgage.
In 2007, the building was auctioned off and purchased by Plainfield Asset Management for $583,000. In January 2009, mold remediation work began on the structure to rid it of asbestos and other problems. The work involved stripping the entire interior of the building, including removing all of its walls and ceilings. The work was estimated to cost $10 million and was expected to take one year to complete. On July 20, 2011, WWL TV of New Orleans reported that the building was up for auction, with a minimum bid of $250,000, and was bought by Tony Anderson. In 2014, developer Joe Jaeger bought the building but has not revealed any plans for redevelopment. Jaeger, whose company is The MCC Group, is also part of a team pursuing a deal with the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to lead a $1 billion development on 47 acres of vacant riverfront land near the power plant.
Past proposals for the tower:
For several years in the late 2000s a plan was in the news to redevelop Plaza Tower as residential space under the name "Crescent City Towers" or variations on that name.
Moran, Kate (January 28, 2009). "Remediation begins at Plaza Tower". Nola.com.
"New Orleans Skyscraper on Auction Block". wwltv.com. July 20, 2011.
"Investors to rehab Plaza Tower". The Times-Picayune. December 19, 2007.
"Crescent City Residences". Giannasca Development Group LLC. Archived from the original on December 15, 2005.
Thomas, Greg (2006-05-02). "Condos are planned for troubled building". New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"Giannasca Development Group purchases historic Plaza Tower" (PDF) (Press release). Giannasca Development Group LLC. 2005-03-09.
Roberts, Deon (2005-11-16). "$24M in funding ignites Plaza Tower project". New Orleans City Business.