Gold Seal Lofts are under construction
9 April 2011
Mid City continues to see an influx of development. The Domain Cos. new Gold Seal Lofts project is underway with Woodward Design+Build once again leading the way.
Creole cream cheese factory in Mid-City turning into loft apartments
8 April 2011
The city’s last Creole cream cheese factory is on its way to becoming 31 energy-efficient, mixed-income apartments surrounded by a community garden in Mid-City.
Construction began last month at the former Gold Seal Creamery building at 520 S. Alexander St. and is expected to be completed in December. The $7 million Gold Seal Lofts is a project of the Domain Cos., a New York- and New Orleans-based real estate development firm. Woodward Design+Build is the general contractor.
Gold Seal is Domain’s fourth apartment development in Mid-City. With more than 500 units across the four apartment complexes and a 20,000-square foot retail building on Tulane Avenue, the company has invested $130 million into Mid-City.
The project is a block away from The Preserve, a 183-unit Domain apartment development at the site of the old Baumer Foods building. Matt Schwartz, principal of the Domain Cos., said his company bought the 30,000-square foot building in late 2007 for $655,000 mainly to control the nearby site, which is bounded by Baudin, South Alexander, D’Hemecourt and South Hennessey streets.
Domain decided to develop the greenest mixed-income building possible at the site.
Like other Domain buildings, Gold Seal will have energy-efficient lighting, appliances and ventilation systems. But the building will also have solar panels on the roof and will use landscaping that reduces water consumption. Four contiguous vacant lots along the edge of the site will become a garden for residents. A nonprofit group, Nola Green Roots, will design and operate the garden.
Apartments in the two-story building will be lofts with high ceilings and polished concrete floors. Demolition work is under way at the site.
The Gold Seal Creamery operated at the site from about 1920 to 1986, and the existing blond-brick building was built in 1954. At its peak, the company employed about 100 workers, most of whom lived in the neighborhood and walked to work.
According to an article by food writer Gene Bourg, the factory was the last family-owned supplier of Creole cream cheese in the New Orleans market. The company’s Creole cream cheese recipe is considered the definitive one, and it has been adopted more recently by boutique creameries trying to bring back the product.
Making the project a reality required eight different sources of financing, including a $3 million construction loan from Capital One, a $1 million permanent loan from Capital One, housing tax credits from the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency that generated nearly $4 million in equity, and $1.8 million in Community Development Block Grant money from the Louisiana Office of Community Development, as well as GO Zone bonus depreciation, federal and state solar energy tax credits and a restoration tax abatement from the city. Capital One purchased all of the housing tax credits generated by the project.
In addition to building apartments, Domain has renovated individual homes in the area, developed the property on Banks Street where the restaurants Crescent Pie & Sausage Co. and Huevos operate, and helped revive St. Patrick’s Park and create community gardens in the area.
The Domain Cos. is also working on the South Market District residential retail project in a sea of vacant parking lots downtown near the future Loyola Avenue streetcar line. While the company tries to assemble financing for the project, it’s working with local companies interested in doing food and drinks at the project, and national retailers.
Rebecca Mowbray can be reached at email@example.com or 504.826.3417.