New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans’ first skyscraper, the Maritime, was built in 1893. Despite a prime location in a historic business district and a unique history, the Maritime was underutilized –until developer Marcel Wisznia led a dynamic team to rehabilitate it. Wisznia’s “design driven development” approach balanced architectural creativity with business efficiency. The team focused on creating warm, modern spaces in the existing envelope, and restored the historic elements that set the structure apart. The $35.6 million project used innovative financing with a mix of HUD loans, state and federal historic tax credits, and New Markets tax credits. Today the Maritime is a mixed-use building with ground-floor commercial space, second-floor office space, and 105 apartments on the upper floors. These new apartments help to replenish the supply of quality rental housing that dwindled after Hurricane Katrina. The Maritime also is making a major impact on the local economy. It has created construction and retail jobs; anchored new, transit-oriented development downtown; provided housing and services for a thriving community; and revitalized the neighborhood with vibrant, art-filled spaces. The Maritime shows how historic preservation is a proven strategy for economic growth and development.