Previous Owner: Owned by Robert Evans and Cesar Burgos from 2006 to March 2010
Current Owner: The City of New Orleans
Assessed Property Value: $1,893,700
Unoccupied Since: 2000
Damage Assessment: Unavailable
Status: Undergoing plans for renovation
The five story, utilitarian-in-appearance, City Hall Annex is located in Mid City and is situated directly on Canal St. between S. Rocheblave St. and S. Tonti St. The building was originally used to house Pan-American Life Insurance, which is now located at 601 Poydras St. The building has remained vacant and unoccupied for over a decade.
Robert Evans and Cesar Burgos initially pursued acquisition of the property in March 2005. The events of Hurricane Katrina disrupted their purchasing plans; however in 2006 Evans and Burgos finalized the purchase for $1.95 million. The initial plans for redevelopment incorporated recreational and commercial facilities on the first two floors, and apartments on the top three floors.
In April 2007, the Regional Planning Commission proposed the area between Galvez St. and Rocheblave St. for the location of the VA Hospital. The City Hall Annex is located within this footprint, but was considered and amenity during the initial stages of the hospitals proposal. In late 2007 the New Orleans City Council issued a moratorium on all properties located within the hospital site but excluded the annex from being included in the freeze.
In March 2010 Louisiana State University followed a quick-take procedure and deposited $3.7 million in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. This allowed for the instant transfer of the properties title to the State of Louisiana through its expropriation law therefore seizing the property from Evans and Burgos.
According to Evans and Burgos, the expropriation price of $3.7 million does not cover the funds they have invested into the property since their acquisition, as well as the property value. The two owners invested at least $2 million since they acquired the property that not only covered monthly insurance and interest payments, but the costs to actively pursue the building be declared a historic therefore allowing the owners to get tax credits.
In December 2010 after the property was seized, the State of Louisiana offered $4.8 million to Evans and Burgos to purchase the property through a voluntary sale, but the offer was rejected.
As development plans for the VA Hospital persist, Evans and Burgos are actively fighting the seizure of their property. They are insisting they are compensated for both they money they invested and total value of the property.
According to the City of New Orleans Press Release on March 15th 2010, the original Pan American building will renovated and used for housing education, training, recruitment, and administrative services for the VA Hospital. The renovation is scheduled for completion in 2013.