As published in the PRC's Preservation in Print, September 2009 Page 13
with photographs from the neighborhood flckr account.
Landis Construction returns to New Orleans after 35 years in the suburbs and adapts a landmark for its new headquarters.
A Contractor’s Dream Finds a Contractor
By Mary Fitzpatrick
A 100-YEAR-OLD chewing gum factory has morphed into a dream headquarters for Landis Construction Company, full of windows and the natural light that employees had missed in their Jefferson, Louisiana home.
President and CEO Jim Landis, the second generation behind the family business, operates a $100 million enterprise that is well known in the world of preservation and historic revitalization for renovations such as Ralph’s on the Park in Parkview, the Newcomb Art School and Temple Sinai Uptown, the W Hotel in the CBD, Trinity Lutheran Church in Algiers Point and Lusher Charter School in Carrollton.
So it was professional instinct that led Landis and his partner, Executive Vice
President Jim Lewis, to adapt the mostly vacant three-story, heavy timber and brick, American Chicle Building at 8300 Earhart Blvd. into their offices. With its open space, abundant light, exposed beams and columns, high ceilings and wide pine floors overlaid with oak, the Italian-style building is “a contractor’s dream,” says Anne Teague Landis, one of the third generation to work at the company.
Creed Brierre of Mathes Brierre Architects worked with Jim Landis to honor the National Register listed building, which is so beloved in the neighborhood — near the intersection of Earhart and Carrollton — that it served as a model for a nearby Walgreen’s and Robert’s grocery store.
The company was able to retain 95 percent of the wood flooring in the 27,000-square-foot structure. The large windows on all four elevations were weatherized and most didn’t even need replacing. In creating private work spaces separated with Sheetrock walls topped by horizontal wood beams and glass transoms, the design allows for privacy as well as a wonderful flow of light.
Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits are a significant factor in making the project possible, as they have been in 20 other Louisiana commercial adaptive reuse projects so far in 2009. “We would not be in this building without the tax credits,” says Anne Teague Landis. With the estimated final expenditures at $2.4 million and tax credits calculated at up to 26 percent, that could mean an approximate savings of $620,000 once the project is approved by the National Park Service, according to Alison F. Saunders, tax incentives director, Louisiana Division of Historic Preservation.
Although there was not time to qualify for LEED certification in the headquarters build-out — from purchase to move-in, the entire project took just six months — Landis made every effort to follow LEED standards. The company has several LEED accredited staff members on its team. Landis collaborated with Global Green for a LEED Platinum project in the historic Holy Cross neighborhood, and currently is renovating four buildings and constructing a new one to create the first LEED Silver film studio in the United States. Second Line Stages, a project of Susan Brennan, will cover an entire block in the historic Lower Garden District and be the first Hollywood-standard soundstage complex in New Orleans. Landis is also the design-builder on a new LEED Gold Student Center at Dillard University.
For the renovation of the American Chicle Building, Brierre and Landis incorporated dozens of environmental elements including FSC-compliant wood, high solar-reflective index roofing over the arcade, low-VOC paint, and motion-activated lighting. However, the most important way Landis Construction reduced the company’s carbon footprint, as we know, was by reusing an existing building.
Congratulations on a job well done.