Developer: The Domain Cos.

Architect: Verges Rome Architects

Major Funders: Capital One; Louisiana Housing Finance Agency; Louisiana Office of Community Development; city of New Orleans; Housing Authority of New Orleans

Over the past six years, The Domain Cos. has invested more than $130 million in Mid-City New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, in projects ranging from large mixed-use developments to single-family renovations.

But the Gold Seal Creamery, a landmark known as the place where “Creole cream cheese” was created, sat vacant and deteriorating.

“We looked at this building and wanted to make something happen one way or another to help get this neighborhood back on its feet,” says Matt Schwartz, Domain principal and co-founder.

The developer purchased the building and started by demolishing the one-story warehouse on site, rebuilding it in the same historic character on the same footprint, and converting it into 11 loft units. The developer created 20 unique apartments in the manufacturing plant, incorporating exposed brick and preserved tile. The project includes photovoltaic panels, high-efficiency HVAC systems, water-conserving fixtures, and Energy Star lighting and appliances.

Financing for the $6.9 million project included low-income housing tax credits, state historic tax credits, and federal and state solar tax credits. Four units are set aside for residents at 20 percent of the area median income (AMI), 17 at 60 percent of the AMI, and 10 at market rates.

Domain also continued its mission in the community by purchasing three neighboring vacant lots—two of the lots have been turned into a community garden for the residents while the third lot has become a “bark park” for residents' pets.