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NEW ORLEANS-Thor Equities is in the process of acquiring a 90,000-sf former department store here that it plans to redevelop. The New York-based development company focused on the revitalization of urban retail says it will bring “back to life” the historic Woolworth Building at Canal and North Rampart streets, several blocks from the waterfront in the city’s theater district. The property, located on a Streetcar line that runs down to the waterfront, has been vacant for several years. Thor Equities says it expects to finalize the Woolworth Building purchase by the end of September. The acquisition price has not yet been disclosed. Thor Equities CEO Joseph Sitt tells GlobeSt.com the redevelopment may include a vertical addition to the building that would house residential space, office space or both. He also says it does not appear the structure will need a seismic retrofit. “So far it looks like we will be OK.” Thor Equities has acquired and is developing a retail, office and residential portfolio totaling approximately six million sf, located mostly in the Eastern and Southeast US. The company’s chairman and CEO is Joseph Sitt, who founded Ashley Stewart Ltd., an upscale, ladies’ apparel chain serving the African-American market. Sitt’s other retail ventures have included the Children’s Place, Petrie (Marianne) Stores and Kidspot. “Thor Equities is preparing to build a stronger presence in New Orleans,” says Sitt. “Downtown New Orleans is poised for a renaissance.” The company’s only other local asset is Gallery at Gentilly Woods, a 186,000-sf enclosed retail center in the northeast part of the city. Thor acquired the asset in 2001. According to Thor, the mall on Chef Menteur Boulevard was in significant decline and had been experiencing substantial vacancies. Thor Equities says it upgraded the property, made management improvements, elevated the site’s local profile and succeeded in stabilizing the retail complex by attracting a number of new tenants, including the national Anna’s Linens chain.

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