Peter Mayer, the state’s largest advertising agency, is leaving its longtime home on Camp Street in the Central Business District when its lease expires June 30, and the three-building complex that has housed the agency since 1979 is up for sale.
Peter Mayer owner Michelle Edelman says she has been planning for the firm’s relocation since she acquired the agency in February from brothers Mark and Josh Mayer, whose father, the late Peter Mayer, founded the firm in 1967.
The Mayers retained ownership of the 40,000-square foot property in the transaction and have been leasing the space back to the agency.
“We had an 18-month lease so this has always been part of the plan,” Edelman said. “The creative workforce has changed since the pandemic and creative talent expect to be able to work remotely. So, we need less space for the same number of employees and we need a space that can offer a hybrid work environment.”
Peter Mayer is the state’s largest advertising and marketing agency with billings in 2021 of $82.1 million, according to figures provided by the agency.
The firm will remain headquartered in New Orleans, though Edelman doesn’t have a new location yet. She’s currently looking for a space ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet — a footprint that is some 25% to 50% smaller than the size of the agency’s Camp Street offices.
Hotel or apartments?
In the meantime, the three four-story buildings at 318-320-324 Camp St., which were built in the 1850s, are being marketed for redevelopment as a boutique hotel or multifamily complex, according to Mike Siegel of Corporate Realty, the listing agent for the properties. The price of the properties hasn’t been publicly disclosed.
At the owners’ request, the firm hired architects Eskew Dumas to do feasibility studies on the property to explore redevelopment options.
One study determined the buildings could be converted into a boutique hotel with 51 rooms and suites, a restaurant and bar. The other study suggested the buildings could be redeveloped into a 48-unit multifamily complex, according to Siegel, who says it’s unlikely a prospective buyer would be interested in using the buildings for office space.
The property is currently zoned CBD-2, or Historic Commercial and Mixed Use District, which allows for both uses.
The decision to market the property for redevelopment rather than trying to sell the building as office space is in keeping with national trends, experts say.
“What’s happened downtown is that most of the buildings are being converted to uses that are either hospitality-related or residential,” Siegel said. “That’s not to say somebody might come out of the woodwork and want the property for their office. But if I was giving it odds, I would suggest the most likely, highest and best use is either multifamily or hospitality.”
Though Commercial Realty isn’t putting a price tag on the property, commercial real estate experts say the going rate for historic buildings with redevelopment potential in that area of the downtown market ranges from between $150-$200 per square foot.
At nearly 40,000 square feet, that would put the price of the buildings at $6 million to $8 million.
“They’re in a prime location and pricing, historically, for those kinds of properties would be as high as $200 per square foot,” said Baldwin Justice, a commercial appraiser with McEnery Co. “That might be a little ambitious now, with inflation, interest rates and local market crime. They might encounter some headwinds. But you could see as much as $200 per square foot.”