OLD PUGLIA’S GROCERY BECOMES FIRST DEVELOPMENTAL PROPERTY SALE IN
FRENCH QUARTER SINCE KATRINA.
by K. Jacob Ruppert*
Local agent Leo J. Montegut turns “realty” into “reality” in milestone deal.
New Orleans ----In an arguably heretofore unseen real estate depression since the Civil War, the French Quarter showed some
quivering sign of life last week when 1100-1108 North Rampart sold to a local developer making it the first realty development deal
the French Quarter has seen since Katrina over one year ago. The property will be developed to a ten-condo complex that may
include one commercial space. The property is zoned as VCC2 and sold for $1,850,000.00.
Largely responsible was local realtor and wunderkind Leo J. Montegut who single-handedly incubated the deal as well as
resuscitated it several times since the property went to contract last June until its closing on December 20. “The French Quarter
has seen sales slowed since the storm and the new occurrence of empty storefronts and apartments over the past year, finding the
right visionary buyer was a synergistic marriage of determination and excellent financing” says Mr. Montegut, a bi-coastal resident
of New Orleans and NYC born in LaPlace, who has worked tirelessly since Katrina to jolt the French Quarter real estate market.
“Scarce affordable insurance makes financing virtually impossible for many very viable buyers. Sellers are holding their breath to
hear the latest insurance horror story.” Montegut’s development deal is considered by many local realtors and brokers as being the
crown jewel of French Quarter commercial deals of 2006.
Choreographing the many steps to the dance was closing attorney Carl J. Little, partner at Morel Yorsch & Little, and co-owner of
NOLA Title Company, LLC. “Taking six months to close certainly bespeaks the troubles facing closing attorneys in a post-Katrina
world,” Little explained. “This deal was plagued with problems, the lion’s share of which is insurance. The increased stress from
investors and bank underwriters force financial institutions to do more hoop-jumping so loans are more scrutinized now than
ever.” Additionally, lining up the necessary financing has become more time consuming as banks and underwriters are requiring
more insurance at rapidly increasing rates. Further delays are attributed to the backup of proposals on the docket of the New
Orleans City Planning Commission and the Vieux Carre Commission. Developers and their attorneys have great surety in the pro-
business commitment these commissions have to the rebuilding of New Orleans, but the staffing shortage in these offices have
bottlenecked the proposal process. “The degree of person-power needed by these commissions to keep all these proposals at a
good pace is simply not there,” Little remarks, “and many proposals could die on the vine.”
|1100-1108 North Rampart Street
The property was the former Puglia’s Grocery, a landmark local grocery for
generations of French Quarter beloved by residents and tourists alike. Located on the
southeast corner of North Rampart and Ursulines, the half-developed, three-
building/two-lot property consists of a townhouse, a commercial building and slave
quarters with central courtyard some off-street parking. The property was under
development at the time the storm hit, but the devastating sway of Katrina reeked
economic havoc to the city for so long and to such a degree that the project never
resumed. That is, until a French Quarter real estate agent said enough was enough.
|Corner North Rampart and Ursulines
Purchaser of the property is local real estate development company PLR Investments,
Inc., a Louisiana investment company comprised of both local and out-of-state partners.
PLR is no stranger to real estate development having created the Belleville Luxury
Condominium project in Algiers Point, the site of the old Belleville Public School. The
powerhouse pairing of leading mortgage officer Kim Hunter of Regions Mortgage of New
Orleans and banker Herman Deslatte, Jr. of LaPlace, proved to be the magic key to
financing the deal. “Everyone was so committed to making this deal work, and at times it
was easier for any one of us to just give up and move on to another project,” reflects
Montegut. “Champagne sipped after that closing never tasted sweeter!”
Little also commented on the generally negative national press the city receives that proves to weaken
efforts to show the country that the city is moving forward and that there is serious national and
international interest in real estate development in Orleans Parish. “National negative press can spook
A self-described ambassador to the city, Leo J. Montegut has made a career bringing to the attention of
US and foreign buyers the many charms and the historic beauty of New Orleans. His tenure with
companies such as Goldman Sachs, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Deloitte & Touche USA, broadened
his understanding of the real estate industry, especially after intimately experiencing 9/11 and Katrina. “It is
up to us - the business people, the natives and the visionaries to partner with and welcome investors to
create a new New Orleans with new capabilities,” Montegut advises.
Montegut has since moved on to his next client, an out-of-state corporation impressed with the North Rampart St. sale.
Leo J. Montegut can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 917.660.7425.
*K. Jacob Ruppert is an attorney and freelance writer from New York City who moved to New Orleans months before Katrina. He now lives and
works in the Natchitoches, LA area. He can be reached at email@example.com.