Jefferson Parish West Bank Might Get A New Movie Production Studio

The old Celotex building in Marrero might have a new purpose in Jefferson Parish. There are talks that the old eye sore will be revitalized into a movie production studio. The building on Fourth Street has been purchased by Maple Marrero LLC.

The site includes 67 acres with around 400,000 square feet of warehouse space. “We could have one of the biggest movie studios in Louisiana and still have over 200,000 square feet of vacant warehouse space, said partner Andrew Duncan.

Celotex’s Marrero plant opened its doors in the 1920’s and employed over 1,000 workers. The plant remained open until it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina and closed its doors in 2009.

Coincidentally the property has been a set for several films and television projects throughout the years. The Hollywood writers and actors strike has set the plans back.
“As soon as the film and TV industry activates again, the place will become active as a filming location. We can start that in 30 seconds,” replies Duncan.

For the next couple of months, the new owners are going to spruce the landscape on the site. “Like many industrial sites along the river, the Celotex site has fallen into disrepair and been underutilized for a number of years,” Duncan said.

“I’m hopeful that in the next couple of years, that eyesore will no longer be an eyesore and instead will be something that contributes to the economy of Jefferson Parish, ” said Jerry Bologna of JEDCO.

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Algiers Shopping Center Purchased by California Investor

Village Aurora Shopping Center opened its doors in the 80’s to its 250,000-square-foot center. Around ten years ago, the shopping complex was renovated and expanded. The shopping center has been purchased by a Los Angeles-based investor, Moisce Belinow. The purchase price set the California investor back $35 million. Belinow believes that the local property is a good investment with upside potential. The current shopping center houses a Winn-Dixie and a Chick-fil-A.

“Our occupancy is 98%, which is attractive. New Orleans doesn’t have a lot of vacancy for high-quality centers, which gives me a lot of comfort about investing in a high-quality property like this,” says Belinow.

The roof needs attention now and the outside needs a facelift. Belinow will sink $1 million into the immediate improvements. The Winn-Dixie will also make some upgrades to its supermarket located in the shopping plaza. Future plans for the shopping center will include a new retail building.

“We focus on adding values to our properties which means renovating, new construction, adding extra pads,” explains Belinow.

“These guys are used to much higher prices on the West Coast, and this is a deal for someone who is willing to take the risk into a tertiary market. There’s a much better return on your investment than you would get for the same asset in Dallas or Houston or Atlanta,” says Steve Reising with SRSA Commercial Real Estate.

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Gretna’s Big Festival Has All the Headliners

This October the Gretna Heritage Festival will be held and will have some big name appearances. The three-day event will see live music from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kool and the Gang, Trombone Shorty, and Orleans Avenue and The Temptations just to name a few. The 27th annual festival is located along the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Gretna.

According to Gretna’s Mayor, Belinda Constant, patrons will also enjoy entertainment from Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Luke Nelson and POTR, Trampled by Turtles and Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone. Saturday along with those mentioned before there will be performances by Lee Brice, JJ Grey and Mofo, Los Lobos, Ashley McBride, Blues Traveler and ZZ Ward. Local performers will include Dumpstaphunk, Iceman Special, Irma Thomas and the Professionals, and Treme Brass Band.

The festival started over 20 years ago with around 500 attending (last year around 50,000 people attended). Last year was the first year that patrons wore wrist bands as their admission.

“The RFID wristbands were new last year, and it took a little time for people to get used to them. But they turned out to be a huge success. Folks really came to appreciate how easy and convenient they made going to the fest,” says Constant.

“Gretna Fest is always such a wonderful event-not only for the city of Gretna but also for the entire New Orleans area,” praises Constant.

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Bucktown’s Waterfront Project

Bucktown’s waterfront will be restored to a marshland. The $15.5 million dollar project will be along a one-mile stretch of the shoreline in Jefferson Parish. Projects such as these are called living shorelines that help create bunkers with natural materials and green vegetation.

They will start with barging in rocks that will create nine segmented breakwaters in Lake Ponchartrain. The formations will be between Bonnabel Boat Launch and Bucktown Harbor and will help protect the federal levee system and keep it from eroding. There will be 20 feet of open water between the jetties and the new marshland area which will create a pathway for kayakers and canoers.

This is the first time a living shoreline will be used to protect a federal levee system and if it is successful, it will be used in other areas along Lake Pontchartrain’s shoreline.

“It’s habitat restoration that also protects the protection,” Greg Grandy, the incoming executive director of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said. “This will reduce the wave energy that comes off of Lake Pontchartrain, particularly during winter storms.”

Funding for the project came from grants and government funding. $4.5 million in grant money came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The remaining included $2.5 million from the National Wildlife Foundation; $1 million from Louisiana’s construction budget; $4 million from proceeds the parish receives from oil and gas revenues in the Gulf of Mexico; and $3.5 million from the CPRA.

“Having this project here, where you can see a marsh, where you can get educated about our environment, where you can see a living shoreline, this is where we can educate the 99% of the population that lives behind our federal levee system,” Jefferson Parish Council member Jennifer Van Vrancken said.

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360insights New Home Is Now New Orleans

The global software firm, 360insights, is moving its U.S. headquarters to New Orleans. The firm, originally based out of Delaware, will add around fifty new jobs to the New Orleans job market. According to Louisiana Economic Development, the jobs will be added over the next two years and will have an average salary of $85,000.

The company is familiar with New Orleans as it already has an office on St. Charles Avenue. In fact, the found and CEO of the company moved to New Orleans a couple of years ago.

“We’re excited to continue to grow at a fast pace and we’ll looking forward to continuing that growth with the New Orleans community over the coming years,” Heather Margolis, 360insights senior vice president of marketing said.

“This announcement validates that our strategy of being a low-cost, high-culture destination for tech is working, and, with 360insights jobs averaging $85,000, that these companies are providing outstanding opportunities for our residents,” Michael Hecht, president and CEO of GNO Inc., said in a statement.

“Two years ago, my family and I relocated to New Orleans to be part of this amazing city and experience the culture-rich, diverse and service oriented community,” Atkins said in a statement. “The programs, support and incentives offered by Louisiana to help us grow our U.S.-based technology team made it a perfect fit for 360insights. We look forward to welcoming NOLA to the 360 team. We are on an unbelievable journey, and we are just getting started.”

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