The Pythian Building is a historically important, vacant 10-story building in the downtown business district of New Orleans. Reinvestment Fund financing is helping Green Coast Enterprises convert the building into workforce affordable housing units, combined with 20,000 square feet of retail space, and 16,000 square feet of office space.
The project is receiving New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations of $14 million in support of the $37.8 million development. Reinvestment Fund is providing $8 million in NMTC allocations and $5.8 million in loans to bridge state and federal historic tax credit equity. National Trust Community Investment Corporation is providing the remaining NMTC allocations and US Bank is the equity investor. Stonehenge Capital and Iberia Bank are also financing partners in this project.
New uses include:
69 units of workforce affordable housing. Just over 20% of the residential units will be set aside for those earning 80% of AMI or less, and an additional 15% of the units will be set-aside for those earning up to 120% AMI or less. Reinvestment Fund’s analytical services for the City of New Orleans revealed that there is significant unmet demand for workforce affordable housing, especially near the downtown area. This property will help to fill that need.
20,000 square feet of retail space on the first and second floor, as well as 16,000 square feet of office space above the retail. The first floor retail space will be leased by a public market, which will both meet a need for fresh, prepared foods in the area, and provide space for as many as 20 small businesses.
A federally qualified health center, meeting a need for primary medical care in the area, and nonprofit offices. The building is committed to leasing a portion of its office space to small-scale nonprofits, offering them a downtown location with intrinsic amenities that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
The Pythian building was once home to the Colored Knights of Pythias, an organization dedicated to the cultural and economic advancement of African-Americans throughout the South during the Jim Crow era. Black professionals who needed to be downtown had their offices here; and the building had a college, a theater, and was an acclaimed site for jazz performances. The Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane considers the building as one of the five most important jazz landmarks remaining in New Orleans. For two generations, it was the center of cultural life for African-Americans in the city.
The building will be renovated to meet both historic and LEED Gold green building standards. It is located on the newest streetcar line and multiple bus lines, and is part of the city’s major commercial center, within walking distance to roughly 100,000 jobs and to many major attractions, including: City Hall, the Superdome, the French Quarter, and the main branch of the city’s public library. Located in a low-income community, the area is also a U.S. Small Business Administration designated HUB Zone and is a medically underserved area.