A parcel of waterfront property that was earmarked for a $50 million condominium project on the West Bank will be sold next month after a bankruptcy court judge ordered it to be auctioned off to settle debts.
The three undeveloped parcels covering approximately 3.3 acres were owned by River Street Ventures LLC, which filed for bankruptcy in June after a Miami-based developer’s plans to build hundreds of condominiums and retail outlets on the site failed. blocked by the town hall.
Developer Philip Spiegelman had fought a long-running battle for the project, which is located at 1321 Brooklyn Ave. in Alger Point, before its main backer, Lion Financial, seized the property and forced it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last summer.
Now he’s looking to take over the site and will be a “straddle” bidder at the auction in April through a company called RSV Delaware, who will be looking to set the first bid somewhere above the market. minimum bid required of $4,436,000.
Waterfront development (shrinking)
The original vision proposed over four years ago was to construct four eight-storey buildings with three large commercial spaces on the ground floor. There were to be over 350 residential units on the upper floors, about 10% of which were reserved for people with below-average incomes.
The project, which is bounded by Brooklyn Avenue and Socrates and De Armas streets, and the riverside Mississippi River Trail, would also have seen part of Lamarque Street, which ends in the middle of the property, converted into a walkway pedestrian.
After facing opposition from several neighborhood interests, including the Alger Riverview Association and the Alger Point Association, a scaled-down version of the development finally won city council approval in the spring of 2018. This version offered 187 units residential and 15,000 square feet of commercial space, with 19 of the units reserved for people with below-average incomes.
After a new city council took office in 2018, with Kristin Gisleson Palmer replacing Nadine Ramsey as a member of District C, which includes Alger Point, the council rescinded its approval of the project.
Spiegelman sued and won an initial decision in New Orleans District Court, arguing that the city exceeded its authority when it rescinded its earlier approval. However, that lower court ruling was overturned by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in late 2019. Spiegelman’s attempt to have the case heard by the Louisiana Supreme Court failed.
He then applied for approval for an even smaller version of the project, before the company went bankrupt.
“After winning my civil lawsuit and having it overturned on appeal, I submitted a ‘law’ plan for 167 units,” Spiegelman said. “That was before Councilwoman Palmer decided to reduce zoning further,” he said, without giving further details. “That’s all I’m willing to say at this time as things are on hold.”
king of the neighborhood
This year, Freddie King III replaced Palmer as a member of the District C City Council. King launched the slogan “For too long politics has stood in the way of progress”, while advocating for more affordable housing. He and his staff did not immediately respond to requests for comment on a potential project at the River Street site.
Some of River Street Ventures’ unsecured creditors objected to the terms of the auction. Several members of Argentina’s Goitia family who provided about $400,000 in unsecured loans for the project have objected to the terms on which Spiegelman is trying to redeem the property.
In a court filing in February, the Goitia family’s local lawyer, Rudy Cerone, filed several objections to the way the tender was being handled, saying it was unfairly slanted in favor of the company. Spiegelman’s offer.
The court has now ordered that all bidders, including Spiegelman, must pay a deposit of $100,000 and submit their bids by April 12, with the auction taking place on April 19. The McEnery Group is the broker.
“Our role is clear: our job is to market this property,” said Parke McEnery, who dismissed claims by the Goitia family that the commission structure favored Spiegelman’s bid.
“If a buyer is willing to pay more than the bidder is willing to pay, fantastic,” he said, noting that the commission is a percentage of the final bid and incentivizes finding the lowest bid. higher regardless of the source.
McEnery’s “dealing room” is open to any local or national bidder who wishes to view details of real estate for sale, as well as any architectural, engineering and other work that has been done for Spiegelman’s proposals. , said McEnery. .
The broker’s offering document says the “highest and best use” of the property is to construct three four-story buildings that would hold approximately 167 residential units. It also clarifies that despite all previous approvals, any successful bidder will need to navigate the City of New Orleans approval process.