Susan Talley, of the Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C., law firm in New Orleans, and Tracey Dodd, of US Risk Management, LLC, both members of New Orleans CREW, received the Economic Improvement Impact Award from CREW Network for their work in the redevelopment of Benson Tower and Champions Square, and renovation of the Superdome and other ancillary areas of downtown New Orleans. Both women were recognized at the Commercial Real Estate Women Network Annual Convention & Marketplace in San Francisco on October 22.
The CREW awards are given annually to a short list of women who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and success in commercial real estate. The national organization represents some 8,000 industry professionals across 73 chapters across the U.S. and Canada.
A public-private endeavor, the project is reinvigorating an entire area of the City of New Orleans, providing much needed office space for displaced State workers, and creating a sports and entertainment district to anchor one end of Poydras Street, an important Downtown corridor.
The project involves the redevelopment of New Orleans Centre, which was acquired by Zelia, LLC, an entity formed by the family of Tom Benson, the owner of the Saints. An important component of the redevelopment and arrangements between Zelia and the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, which owns and manages the Superdome, was an extension of the New Orleans Saints stadium agreement with the Superdome through the 2025 NFL season and with the possibility of an additional five-year extension.
Ms. Talley represented Zelia in connection with the acquisition and financing. She is a founding member of New Orleans CREW and served as one of the organization’s original board members. Because so much work needed to be done in such a short time frame, Stone Pigman fielded a team of three partners, including Ms. Talley, who divided up the work to reflect their areas of expertise
Ms. Dodd, who is also a long-time member of New Orleans CREW, took the lead on the environmental work for Zelia. In addition to traditional environmental reports for the acquisition and financing, she was called on to provide technical assistance, including remediation design and oversight to address environmental conditions that arose out of the Katrina damage and the fact that the project had remained vacant and unattended for so long. This ensures that remediation in the building is completed and re-occupancy can occur for State employees.
“We are immensely grateful to CREW for selecting Stone Pigman and U.S. Risk Management to share this year’s Impact Award for Economic Improvement,” Ms. Talley said. “It’s no exaggeration to call the New Orleans Centre and Benson Tower redevelopment a championship caliber project. It came at a particularly important time for the City of New Orleans, in the aftermath of Katrina, and will be a major catalyst for revitalizing shopping, entertainment and business downtown. The principals – from the Benson family to the LSED, the city, the State, the project lenders, the Saints and all the local businesses involved – have made an unprecedented commitment to this vital economic development initiative.”
Although they came on board after the original award submission, two other New Orleans CREW members are also involved in the project, Nicole Marshall of Eskew+Dumez+Ripple design firm, and Sabine Teijelo of AOS, an office systems and furniture provider.
Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, in a Joint Venture with Ellerbe Becket Architects out of Kansas City, Missouri, led the design of both the Champions Square plaza and the $45M 2009 Superdome enhancements package inside the 2 million square foot sports and special events stadium. As part of this effort, Ms. Marshall helped in conceptualizing a phased approach to creating the new urban tailgating venue.
AOS supplied all of the new chairs for the Superdome Press Box through a contract with General Contractor Citadel/Anderson. Ms. Teijelo, working with the client and construction team, selected the appropriate products for the space.