A federal bankruptcy court judge has approved the sale of two downtown properties by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection more than two years ago in the face of lawsuits increases related to child sexual abuse.

US Bankruptcy Court Judge Meredith Grabill approved the sales last week ahead of a hearing on the matter which was scheduled for November 17, but was canceled after neither party objected current agreements.

Grabill’s order means the archdiocese can execute two purchase contracts with separate buyers it has lined up to acquire adjacent properties on the edge of the central business district.

One property is the 12-story office building at 1000 Howard Ave., which is under contract with a Lafayette developer. The other is the parking lot at 1032 and 1042 Loyola Avenue, which is under contract with a local investor group.

Combined, the transactions will generate nearly $10 million for the archdiocese, which so far has sold only one other property since filing for bankruptcy – the former St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Kenner. , which grossed $1.9 million in 2020.

The archdiocese declined to comment on the ongoing sales, which will generate money the church can eventually use to help pay what are expected to be tens of millions of dollars in claims filed by some 450 victims of sexual abuse. .

But a real estate broker representing the archdiocese in its land deals said the approval was a positive step forward.

“We believe the court made the right decision,” said Parke McEnery of the McEnery Group. “We are delighted that they have approved the sale.”

Development potential

It’s unclear how much of the millions raised from property sales will go towards resolving abuse complaints inflicted on priests and other clergy who have served in the archdiocese.

But whatever their place in the church’s bankruptcy case, the land deals are important for what they mean for the potential redevelopment of Howard Avenue.

The office building at 1000 Howard Avenue is a mid-century modern office building with an attached parking garage and parking lot. A Lafayette-based group, Triple or Nothing, LLC, signed a purchase agreement with the archdiocese earlier this year to acquire the property for $8.3 million by Dec. 30.

Triple or Nothing, LLC is registered with Samer Mohd, a Lafayette investor who owns several businesses in Lafayette and several local investment properties in Mid-City and near Tulane Avenue.

Mohd did not return a call seeking comment on his group’s plans, but McEnery said the investor plans to redevelop the site into a hospitality concept.

The other transaction is the sale of a parking lot located directly behind the Howard Avenue building. Local property development company Mk RED signed a purchase agreement to acquire the land for $1.68 million, court records show.

Mk RED declined to comment on the pending sale or the company’s plans for the property. The company’s portfolio includes several multi-family developments in Mid-City.

No closing date for this property has been set, McEnery said.

The building and parking lot are the last remaining examples of interest in the Howard Avenue Corridor which has suffered through years of divestment.

In October, an entity owned by Miami-based Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits acquired the three-story iHeart Media building in the 900 block of Howard Avenue, paying nearly $3.6 million for the 17,765-foot building. squares, or over $200 per square. foot.

Southern Glazer’s is the largest distributor of wines and spirits in the United States and counts Louisiana among the 44 states in which it does business.

In 2021, the Museum of Southern Jewish Experience opened on the 800 block of Howard Avenue in a newly renovated building acquired by New York real estate developer Jeffrey Feil.

“Most of the vacant land and usable buildings in the CBD have already been taken or redeveloped,” said Bush Benton, commercial appraiser at Stegall Benton Melancon and Associates. “That’s what makes this outlying area attractive.”