Week in Review, Jan. 10-14: Whitney Hotel, Urban Venture Fund and More

NEW ORLEANS — Here, from staff and wire reports are the week’s top business stories:

Entrepreneur Robert Thompson’s hospitality firm Angevin & Co. has partnered with Cleveland-based real estate investment company GBX Group to purchase the Whitney Hotel from hotelier Joe Jaeger for $16.9 million. Thompson, creator of the Punch Bowl Social “eatertainment” concept, moved to New Orleans in early 2021. He purchased the Frenchmen Hotel (417 Frenchmen St.) in June. With the acquisition of the Whitney Hotel, located at 610 Poydras Street in the Central Business District, Thompson said he has established “gateways” to the French Quarter from two sides. The Whitney Hotel building was originally constructed as a bank. Now registered as a National Historic Landmark, the former Whitney Wyndham has 93 guest rooms, 24 suites and 30-foot lobby ceilings. Jaeger bought it from developer Paul Flower in 2014 for $10.4 million. Angevin & Co. will work with design partners FAM Design to make “top-to-bottom” renovations and updates.

Local commercial real estate firm Urban Properties Real Estate announced that it has closed its first round of funding commitments and officially launched the Urban Venture Fund LP with plans to invest more than $30 million in Gulf South real estate over the next three years. “The creation of the Urban Venture Fund is a natural next step for the leadership at Urban Properties,” said Eugene Schmitt, the company’s director of asset management, in a press release. “We created and structured the fund to serve as a non-institutional alternative for local and regional investors seeking to capture strong returns while also investing in the region they call home. Sponsored by the principals of Urban Properties, the fund is a seven-year, closed-end fund that can be paid off earlier than its maturity date. It will target middle market ($2 to $10 million) investment opportunities across a variety of product types, including multifamily, industrial, hospitality, office and retail in New Orleans and the surrounding area.

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McEnery Residential has announced the formal opening of a new office location in Old Gretna in partnership with Tiffany Riddle and Courtney Kattengell of TCK Property Marketplace. The TCK team is now licensed with McEnery Residential. “We are beyond excited about what the future holds for the unique marriage of our collective branding, experience, and relationships,” said Parke McEnery, McEnery Residential’s sponsoring broker. “This new growth opportunity will ensure continued market share expansion, further refined internal collaboration and, most importantly, an even more efficient platform for client service.” McEnery Residential is owned by McEnery, Ansley Marshall and Katherine Eshleman. Founded in 2018, the company employs 66 agents and is headquartered at 4901 Magazine Street. It has a Mandeville office as well.

New Orleans will reinstitute an indoor mask mandate to fight the spread of COVID-19 while readying for an influx of visitors for the Mardi Gras season, the city health director said Tuesday. Dr. Jennifer Avegno said the mandate takes effect Wednesday at 6 a.m. and will apply to participants in the annual Mardi Gras balls that take place in the city. Avegno said Louisiana’s statewide coronavirus daily hospitalization numbers have grown in three weeks “by a factor of seven.” She said those cases have put a strain on hospitals, with emergency room waits as long as 12 hours in some facilities. Growing numbers of coronavirus cases, driven by the omicron variant can affect treatment for people seeking treatment for other illnesses or injuries, Avegno said.

Triton Stone Group of New Orleans, a national wholesaler and distributor of granite and natural stone products, has acquired the assets of Unique Stone Concepts, a distributor with locations in St. Louis; Indianapolis; Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, KS and Omaha, Neb. “We were looking to expand into the Midwest and once we met with Unique, we knew right away what a great fit it was going to be. They have an amazing team and a very similar culture and values to ours,” said Triton Stone Group President Katie Jensen, who expects the deal to increase the amount of material her company ships through the Port of New Orleans by 25% to 35%. “Their commitment to their customers and their core values are right in line with Triton; having this expanded footprint will be advantageous for our future growth.” Elliot Uchitelle, co-founder of Unique Stone Concepts and 20-year veteran of the industry, will serve as Triton’s regional manager in the Midwest.

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The latest effort to bridge the digital divide delivered promising responses for round one of Louisiana’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities Fund grant program. Applications requesting more than $400 million in funding came from local governments within 58 parishes across Louisiana. “The GUMBO Fund will allow countless Louisianans to participate in the global economy while improving access to tele-healthcare and educational opportunity,” said Rep. Daryl Deshotel (R-Avoyelles), the legislative architect of the program. “This is one of the greatest economic development opportunities in the history of Louisiana.” The GUMBO Fund, authored by Rep. Deshotel, was enacted during the 2021 Regular Legislative Session. On November 1st, the program began receiving round one applications for the $90 million in funding. This March, the awards will be announced and construction will begin as soon as May.

LongueVue Capital, a New Orleans-based private equity firm, has announced the sale of Select Express & Logistics to AIT Worldwide Logistics, a global supply chain solutions provider. AIT is a portfolio company of the Jordan Company, a New York-based private equity firm. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in New York, NY, SEL is a 3PL arranging final mile delivery and assembly services for big and bulky consumer and commercial goods, including furniture, fitness equipment, outdoor structures and accessories.  LVC partnered with SEL’s management team to acquire the company in 2018 and provided growth capital to professionalize the business and invest in tech development, infrastructure, operational enhancements, and human capital. Over the course of LVC’s investment, the company tripled revenues, diversified its customer base, doubled its employee base, and completed the synergistic acquisition of Go Configure.

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