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Old Posted Jun 3, 2020, 6:14 PM
ttr888 ttr888 is offline
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Originally Posted by sguil1 View Post
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A project to turn the former site of The Times-Picayune into a Drive Shack golf entertainment venue is on hold.

Rendering courtesy Stirling Properties
Rendering courtesy Stirling Properties

The $29 million development, which began construction last June, was initially set to open its doors this year. A recent PowerPoint presentation for Drive Shack investors says it will open sometime in 2021.

“We hope to begin construction again soon, as soon as it is safe to do so, in accordance with New Orleans (and) state guidelines,” said Andrea Nirsimloo, executive vice president of M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment. “The pause is solely due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Drive Shack, which had $14 million in unrestricted cash on hand as of April 30, has furloughed over 4,000 employees across its operations and corporate office in order to preserve cash savings, according to a news release announcing first-quarter results. The company also deferred the payment of 2019 annual employee bonuses, temporarily suspended the quarterly cash dividend on its preferred stock and halted new construction, the release said.

According to the company’s website, existing Drive Shack locations in Richmond, Virginia and West Palm Beach, Florida have reopened while its other venues in Orlando and Raleigh, North Carolina remain temporarily closed.

Drive Shack received a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, from the New Orleans Industrial Development Board for the venue at 3800 Howard Ave. alongside Interstate 10. The 62,000-square-foot development will have 90 climate-controlled hitting bays, a gaming lounge, a full-service restaurant and bar, an outdoor lounge and several meeting and event rooms. The development would be three stories tall and create more than 350 jobs, developers said in 2018.

Other terms of the PILOT required Drive Shack to hire 40% of its construction workforce from Orleans Parish and follow the city’s guidelines for using disadvantaged business enterprises during the construction process.

Joe Jaeger of MCC Real Estate is one of the owners of the property. Others include Barry Kern of Mardi Gras World, real estate developer Arnold Kirschman and local businessman Michael White. The group purchased the site for $3.5 million in 2016.

Several other construction projects in New Orleans have paused during the pandemic. Some local developers have said current work has slowed because they are trying to limit one trade at a time to keep a smaller number of workers at job sites and limit exposure to the virus.

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience said Tuesday that construction delays have contributed to pushing its opening date, initially set for this fall, to 2021. A downturn in tourism also factored into the decision, officials said.

The Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority this spring put a multimillion-dollar headquarters hotel for the Convention Center on hold amid declining tourism and pressure from a watchdog group that questioned its cost.

But public and private construction have been declared essential services in the pandemic, and work continues on quite a few projects. These include the conversion of the former St. Vincent Guest House in the Lower Garden District into a 75-room boutique hotel and the multimillion-dollar renovation of the former World Trade Center building at the foot of Canal Street into a Four Seasons Hotel and Residences.
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