Downtown Development Group to Re-Develop Treme’s Rainbow Hotel into Apartment Units

(New Orleans, LA) Downtown Development Group (DDG), headed by New Orleans developer Joshua Bruno, has signed an agreement to purchase the 58-unit Rainbow Hotel at 1937 St. Ann Street in Treme for $320,000—and plans to redevelop the hotel into 40 low- to moderate- income apartments.

Construction on The St. Ann Square Apartments that will include 40 one-, two- and three-bedroom units and is scheduled to begin in late May, with a targeted completion date of September 2008.  The $2 million redevelopment project will be financed by First Bank and Trust and Bruno.

The apartment development will feature a gated court yard and usable green space along with gated off-street parking.  The units will be constructed with hurricane resistant steel and concrete bracing, energy efficient electrical and plumbing systems, and reinforced windows that comply with Dade County, FL hurricane codes.

Other St. Ann Square Apartments amenities include:  wrap-around balconies, central air and heat, outdoor barbeque grills, a digital phone system, free wireless Internet, and closed circuit TV security surveillance system.   Unit sizes start at 600 square feet and will rent for $600 a month.  The three-bedroom units at 1200 square feet will rent for approximately $975 per month.

DDG is designing and developing the St. Ann Square Apartments and Bruno, Inc., a vertically integrated real estate development company, will do the construction renovation. Metro-Wide Apartments, another Bruno company, will manage and lease the property.

“St. Ann Square will provide additional affordable housing in the historic Treme area where there was considerable damage from Hurricane Katrina,” states Joshua Bruno.  “Hopefully, this project will contribute to the overall redevelopment of this important area adjacent to the French Quarter.”

This type of development is needed in the metro New Orleans area, Bruno explains, to house residents who have no place to live and are forced to live on the streets.

In addition to the St. Ann Square Apartment units, Metro-Wide Apartments will open a neighborhood laundry-mat on St. Anna Street and N. Prieur.  The company will hire Tremeresidents to run the laundry and to provide janitorial services for the apartment complex.   Metro-Wide will also start a neighborhood crime watch program In Treme.

“We will continue the partnership we began after the storm with numerous non-profit, housing programs like UNITY, Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of New Orleans, along with FEMA, to provide attractive, safe, and affordable home environments,” states Bruno, who has developed six other rental properties in Treme in the last 2 ½ years.

Since 2005, DDG has developed more than 200 residential housing units—from low and moderate income communities, to the middle and upper income 45-unit, Riverview Apartments currently under construction on the river in South Kenner.  Bruno is planning to develop over 150 additional multi-family, low- to moderate-income and middle- to upper-income units by the end of 2008.

One of the keys to the success of Bruno’s real estate developments is designing his projects to add value and services to a larger surrounding community.  In addition, Bruno is one
of relatively few private developers who has been willing to invest his own money in areas of the city he believes to be critical to the city’s recovery.

Bruno’s real estate development philosophy is based on increasing the quality of life by creating outdoor spaces that provide opportunities for residents and workers to enjoy ample green spaces and to integrate light and outdoor views into interiors.  His properties combine the convenience of city living with the beauty and security of suburban life.

Bruno and DDG are also currently lead developers of Century Park, a $20.2 million Class A office and retail center planned for construction in Slidell— at the Fremeaux Interchange and Highway 190, adjacent to the planned UNO Technology Center along the I-10 Technology corridor.
The company is also redeveloping the 1600 Canal Street Office building, formerly owned by the University of New Orleans, into The Canal Medical and Technology Center—a $16M, Class A mixed use medical and technology office center.

Other real estate projects developed by DDG include:

•Redevelopment of Heritage Business Park; Gretna, LA
•Headquarter offices of Downtown Development Group/Metro Wide Apartments–6000 Sq. Ft. Hurricane Resistant building on Tulane Avenue; New Orleans, LA
•Three large low to moderate income Garden Style Multi-Family Properties built at the same time:
–Washington Gardens – 25 units on Washington Avenue; New Orleans, LA
–Washington Place – 24 units on Washington Avenue; New Orleans, LA
–Metairie Heights – 12 units; Metairie, LA