Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Condo Tower Near New Orleans Takes Shape

When people think of New Orleans as a vacation home site, they tend to think of a condo in the French Quarter or the Warehouse District. But a Florida developer thinks there's a market for luxury condos not near downtown, but rather on Lake Pontchartrain.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports today that the 23-story, "350-unit behemoth encompassing 1 million square feet plus a 200-slip marina and retail waterfront center" would rise near Slidell.

Developer Richard Waserstein told the paper he hopes to break ground on the 250-foot tower by the end of the year, with the project completed by the summer of 2007.

"Entry-level prices" would be about $350,000 for the smaller units. About 100 units will be 1,400 square feet. About 70 units will be 1,500 square feet in size, another 70 will be 1,900 square feet.

"We've tested the market, spoken to Realtors and people who live in the area. The demand we see is tremendous. Even just from an investor standpoint -- and we're really looking for people who want to live there, not just invest -- we see a tremendous upside," Waserstein tells the paper.

He sees the market as those looking for second homes, those who work downtown and want waterfront amenities just across the twin spans of Interstate 10, single-family home hunters on the north shore, and out-of-towners.

The draw will include those attracted to the waterfront site because of its location between the gambling of the Gulf Coast and the amenities of downtown New Orleans, he said. Waserstein added that St. According to the paper, "Tammany is the fastest-growing parish in the state and among the fastest-growing counties in the nation."

But at least one local real estate executive questions the size of the proposed condominium tower.

"I'm a little surprised at the number of units," Shaun Talbot of the Talbot Realty Group in New Orleans. "That area has no real track record" in major condo sales."

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