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Partners buy Board of Trade building

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Developer Sidney Torres IV and restaurateur Hicham Khodr have teamed to buy the New Orleans Board of Trade property in the Central Business District.

New Orleans CityBusiness reports (http://bit.ly/1salUMa) the $3 million deal closed May 7.

In addition to housing offices for the Board of Trade, the property has been used in recent years for weddings and corporate events.

Torres said he and Khodr intend to continue using the space for special events, with Pigéon Catering remaining a tenant.

"I've been reading so much about New Orleans becoming a top wedding destination," Torres said. "There's a lot of opportunity to turn it into a premiere wedding venue."

The Board of Trade gave Pigéon first option to buy the property. Torres said the family-owned catering business approached him and Khodr about investing.

Pigéon exercised its option to buy and then sold the property to Torres and Khodr.

Torres, through his private investment firm IV Capital, said he has loaned about $15 million to businesses in the CBD and French Quarter, including to Khodr.

Khodr's Gumbo Shop catering service merged with Pigéon's operation in 2013.

Torres said he intends to add modern amenities to the Board of Trade facility without altering its historic character.

The nonprofit Board of Trade will move its offices from the building, which was constructed in the 1880s. The organization has historically tracked commodity commerce, with an emphasis on coffee imports. Its maritime log tracks vessels entering and leaving the Mississippi River.

The deal is the first major local transaction for Torres since he sold three hotels in the French Quarter and Marigny to developer Joe Jaeger a year ago.

Torres sold his garbage hauling business, SDT Waste and Debris, to Progressive Waste Services in 2011 for an undisclosed sum, and he bought a 32-acre resort in the Bahamas in 2012.

Khodr's portfolio includes Camellia Grill, NOLA Restaurant, Salu and Mahony's Po-Boy Shop.

He is also a partner in the Byblos restaurants in Metairie and New Orleans.

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Information from: New Orleans CityBusiness, http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com

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