Orpheum’s New Owner

A historic New Orleans venue that’s been vacant since it flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has been sold to a new owner with dreams of transforming the place.

Businessman Andrew Reid recently purchased the Orpheum Theatre for $675,000 – the same price the venue sold for in 2006. But part of his deal also includes assuming a $2.7 million mortgage plus back taxes, interest and penalties.

The story goes something like this.

While the previous owners, a pair of Texas businessmen, said they planned to restore the venue to its original splendor, the Orpheum sat vacant for years while they ran up debt on the building.

The theatre was transferred to another business entity. A second mortgage was taken out equal to the amount of the first. They solicited millions from local investors for the property but never delivered the handsome returns they’d promised. Finally, they ended up in court, and the building continued to deteriorate.

Reid said the investors, who apparently have no legal recourse because their names were not put on property titles, will be repaid “one hundred percent” before the end of the year.

On top of making good with the locals, Reid has pegged construction costs at around $10 million.

His vision for the Orpheum, which was originally a vaudeville venue, includes a 1,500-seat theatre and possibly a private rooftop club.

City officials with the Downtown Development District are reportedly on board to assist with the undertaking that has already cost Reid roughly $100,000 to clean the site and pump water out of the basement. He reportedly said it all hinges on whether he can secure a $5 million community development grant from the city.