A local developer purchased a pair of early jazz era landmarks on South Rampart Street yesterday.
NOLA.com reports that the Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation sold both buildings–the former Iroquois Theatre and Karnofsky Tailor Shop–to New Orlans developer Joseph Georgusis in exchange for property in St. Bernard Parish. Evidently, no cash was involved in the sale.
Neither the foundation nor Georgusis provided many specific details about what’s in store for the landmarks. However, the developer did allude to certain aspects of the buildings’ planned restoration.
“We look forward to placing these buildings back into commerce in a way that pays tribute to their rich history and importance to our community and country,” he said in a news release. “The public can expect work to begin restoring the historic facades of both buildings and a plaque installed to honor what took place inside.”
In our January 2015 story “New Orleans Jazz Landmarks Languish in Disrepair,” David Kunian noted that the Iroquois Theatre and Karnofsky Shop were two of the three most high profile landmarks located on the 400 block of South Rampart. The third building–the former Eagle Saloon–was owned by the Meraux Foundation until 2007, when they sold it to the nonprofit New Orleans Music Hall of Fame.
With assistance from the Eagle Saloon Initiative, the New Orleans Music Hall of Fame recently launched a new effort to revitalize the building. The plans for the first phase of the structure’s stabilization was announced last month, along with the news that New Orleans Music Hall’s Chair Rita Gue would be stepping down from her position (Gue serves on the board for the Meraux Foundation).
The Eagle Saloon Initiative has enlisted a number of “cultural ambassadors” that will champion the resurrection of the historic building. Participants include musicians like Porter, Big Sam, Ivan and Ian Neville, Dave Torkanowsky, DJ Soul Sister, Deacon John Moore, PJ Morton and Eric Krasno, as well as former WWOZ programming director Dwayne Breashears, music journalist Alison Fensterstock, music historian Holly Hobbs, author Louis Maistros, writer Brett Michael Dykes and OffBeat’s own Jan Ramsey.