In early 2014, a team of educational and culinary powerhouses—including Delgado, UNO, Tulane and celebrated restaurateurs Ti Martin and Dickie Brennan— announced official plans to bring the CIA and Johnson & Wales-like nonprofit institution New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) to the defunct Louisiana ArtWorks building in the Warehouse District. Over a year later Doug McCash now reports that not much appears to be happening in way of progress, even though the multi-million dollar project is slated to open next year. Per McCash, information about NOCHI's plans are "scarce" and there's this:
As of May 5, there were no renovation, demolition or zoning requests filed with city for 725 Howard Ave., and there has been no obvious work performed at the building.
While neither UNO nor Delgado have responded to McCash's queries about the lack of progress, NOCHI's PR director/chairwoman/head of Commander's Palace Ti Martin has released a statement to put out the fire:
NOCHI is an innovative and complex model, with many moving parts...As in any process, details are often being finalized right up to the last minute. While there is still some ground to cover, you'll be hearing from us soon.
While NOCHI has been granted an $8 million dollar loan, and may receive another $4 million in historic tax credits, the building itself cost $6.2 million, with renovation and upkeep projected at another $12 to $18 million before the school even opens. As McCash reports, "Delgado's participation in NOCHI is crucial, because the community college will contribute $9 million of state taxpayer money to the project," so fingers crossed that there's no trouble in paradise.
Previously announced plans for NOCHI include a food incubator and the Delgado Culinary Center of Excellence, along with UNO's Masters in Hospitality, Tulane Hospitality and Entrepreneurship, and NOCHI Culinary and Hospitality programs inside a 93,000 square foot space with enrollment projected at about 600 culinary students a year.