Government & Politics

French Market Corp. to cancel lease with council candidate due to ethical conflict

The French Market Corporation’s real estate committee voted Monday to allow City Council candidate Eugene Green out of a lease for a city-owned retail space at 912 Decatur Street.

Green, who planned to open a Cold Stone Creamery there, requested the rescission after he learned that city law prohibits public officials from leasing city-owned property.

“The tenant has developed a conflict of interest that would prevent him from complying with the terms of the lease,” said French Market Corporation director Jon Smith at the meeting.

The lease, signed in October, commenced on Jan. 1, with a $3,000 minimum rent, plus 9 percent of any revenue above $400,000 per year.

Smith said Green offered to surrender his deposit on the site in lieu of the first month’s rent. “We are financially whole” as a result of keeping the deposit, Smith said. Green confirmed that his deposit was $3,000.

“Remember, I requested the rescission because I’m winning,” Green said. He’s challenging Stacy Head for an at-large seat on the council.

A meeting of the full French Market Corporation board, scheduled for Tuesday, was cancelled due to weather concerns.

The committee took no action on a request by the nonprofit group New Orleans Musical Legends to extend its $1 annual lease of Edison Park on Bourbon Street. The lease was negotiated in 1999 to allow the group to improve and renovate the park, according to Times-Picayune.

The nonprofit subleases part of the park to Cafe Beignet for $100,000 per year, an arrangement criticized by the Office of Inspector General last fall. The French Market Corporation responded at the time that it would consider leasing the park directly to Cafe Beignet.

The request to extend the dollar lease came from Dottie Belletto, executive director of New Orleans Musical Legends and president of event-planning company New Orleans Convention Company Inc. The company counts the city of New Orleans and Mitch Landrieu’s campaign among its frequent clients, according to city and campaign records.

“It’s a highly trafficked spot. A dollar per year is obviously not adequate,” Smith said at Monday’s meeting. He said New Orleans Musical Legends had not submitted financial documents in time for his staff to offer new terms, and the committee voted to table the matter.

The French Market Corporation is expected to return $1 million to the city’s general fund this year.

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  • Jason Brad Berry

    “The French Market Corporation is expected to return $1 million to the city’s general fund this year.”

    Charles, is that profit generated from expected revenue in 2014?

  • NOLACitizen1


  • Charles Maldonado

    Yes, that’s from their expected rental revenue this year.

  • Jason Brad Berry

    The FMC has always been a target-rich environment for kick-backs and corruption. Nice catch Charles and The Lens.

  • Fat Harry

    Green’s a Morial and Bill Jefferson hack, so of course he got out of his lease.

  • onenola

    Some months back it was reported that Green intended to run against Hedge Morell.(who sits on the French Market Board) Mercadel(the president of the French Market Board) is the daughter of a man who made money off of contracts during the Moriel administration, the chairman of the French Market Real Estate committee, Ira Middleburg was a major fundraiser for Moriel, and made money off contracts during the administration… the math.