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Joe Jaeger puts Plaza Tower up for sale

Jaeger says he's giving up on his plans to redevelop the abandoned skyscraper, which was New Orleans' tallest building when it was built in 1969.
Credit: WWLTV

NEW ORLEANS — The Plaza Tower is up for sale, nine years after developer Joe Jaeger bought it. 

Jaeger says he's giving up on his plans to redevelop the abandoned skyscraper, which was New Orleans' tallest building when it was built in 1969.

“Our goal is to see the Plaza Tower return to commerce as quickly as possible,” Jaeger said in a statement. “Right now, we think the best way to do that is through a sale. We will continue to take steps to secure the building in the safest possible manner until the property is sold.”

Jaeger’s Alexandra Land & Development purchased the 44-story building in 2014, with a $150 million plan to turn the first 17 floors into a boutique hotel and luxury condos above.

But the Plaza Tower has been a developer’s nightmare since its last tenant left in 2002.

The building was riddled with asbestos and had to be remediated 20 years ago.

It changed hands several times and redevelopment plans after Hurricane Katrina fell apart amid a multimillion-dollar dispute over insurance proceeds.

And the headaches continued after Jaeger bought it. In May 2021, pieces fell off the top of the building and hit a passerby.

The city ordered Jaeger to put up 2 protective nets.

In an interview with WWL-TV and The Times-Picayune in November, Jaeger was annoyed.

“We put that big freakin' hairnet on it and then I got told put another one on and spend a ton of money as we continue to work to get this thing developed,” he said.

Last August, Jaeger welded the doors of the Plaza Tower shut. The work caused smoke and the fire department responded.

In October, the TV station and newspaper got video of graffiti artists breaking in and climbing out on a ledge, about 80 feet in the air.

“Between professional strippers who strip the building and the vagrants that are doing whatever and the thrill seekers you've got, you can't police it,” Jaeger said.

Then, last month, more pieces fell from the top, forcing the closure of surrounding streets.

Jaeger says he's been close to getting financing, but it's fallen through, multiple times. He said it’s because national lenders must agree to provide loans for projects that size.

In November, Jaeger said in frustration that he ought to sell the Plaza Tower. Now, that frustration has boiled over.

In text messages, he blamed the city for being a "hindrance," adding: "It's been too much hassle with the various departments of the city that don't have any clue what it takes to do a $160 million project by a local developer in this city."

But the city actually held back on imposing fines against the Plaza Tower for years. In May 2021, after the first debris fell in a wind storm, Safety & Permits Director Tammie Jackson said at a news conference, “With large-scale projects like this, we know it takes some time.”

City spokesman John Lawson said City Hall hasn't been any hindrance to Jaeger. And he cheered his plans to sell, saying, "The City applauds Mr. Jaeger in taking these next steps."


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