With a $6.2 million purchase price, a buyer has finally been chosen for the ArtWorks building, located just off of Lee Circle at 725 Howard Avenue. After months of debate, the Arts Council of New Orleans announced it had sold the property (estimated to close within 60 days) to the Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI).
The project, which plans to be a place of training, education, research and development, is supported by recognized names and organizations throughout New Orleans. Members of the Brennan restaurant family, chef John Besh and university programs including the Delgado Community College’s Culinary Center of Excellence, the University of New Orleans’ master’s degree in hospitality program and Tulane University’s Hospitality and Entrepreneurship program.
The current board of directors is comprised of Ti Martin, Dickie Brennan, John Besh, George Brower, Edgar Chase III and Barbara Mollere. Carol Markowitz will serve as the future culinary institute director.
“We were thrilled to learn of the selection of the NOCHI proposal for the ArtWorks building located on historic Lee Circle,” said Brower. “It is a win-win for the City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, our citizens, our workforce and the preservation of our unique culture.”
A loan from First NBC bank in addition to guaranteed pledges by Bill Goldring, Phyllis Taylor and David Kerstein through The Helis Foundation will help get the project off the ground once the deal is closed. NOCHI expects to begin construction by the end of 2014 and fully launch operations by the Fall 2016 semester.
NOCHI estimates the building renovations will take around $18 million to get from the now vacant ArtWorks space to the top-of-the-line culinary facility, $9 million of which will come from state bond funding from Delgado.
“NOCHI is already a symbol of what can happen when diverse people, multiple universities, a city and a state come together to make an important idea come to life,” said Martin. “Our city deserves a center for excellence to study, teach, innovate, and celebrate our culinary history and to chart a path for the history we want to make in the food world.”