Two long-neglected historic buildings are being brought back to life in different parts of town targeted for revitalization. The former Krauss department store on Canal Street and the former Falstaff brewery building near Tulane Avenue and South Broad Street are both being converted into large apartment complexes by separate local development companies.

NEWS BEAT: Historic LivingOpened in 1903, the Krauss building, above, reigned as the city’s largest department store but was closed in 1997 and has since sat vacant. Before Hurricane Katrina, local developer Elie Khoury bought the building and announced plans to turn it into an upscale residential complex. The disaster temporarily derailed the plans but with a new financing deal for $53 million from Bank of America, it’s back on track.

The Krauss project is in line with the city’s comprehensive strategic plan for revitalizing the downtown stretch of Canal Street, which specifically calls for the reuse of historic buildings as residencies.

“This project will anchor this side of Canal Street and it will start an initiative to redevelop this area,” Mayor C. Ray Nagin said at a ribbon-cutting event for the project in April.

Called the 1201 Canal Apartments and Condominiums, the development will include 122 apartments, 96 condominiums, 15 penthouses and 25,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The building is expected to be ready for residency in mid-2008.

NEWS BEAT: Historic LivingMeanwhile, across town near the Orleans Parish Criminal Court Building, developers David Miller and Tad Mondale also have begun work on the conversion of the Falstaff Brewery Co. building, below. This project also was originally planned before Hurricane Katrina but with the resolution of financing issues, work began in April to turn the massive structure into 147 apartments with a mix of market-rate units and units priced for low-income residents. Miller says the first residencies could be ready by the end of the year.

The property includes a complex of interconnected buildings dating back to 1912, and together comprising 250,000 square feet. It was run as a brewery until Falstaff closed it in 1978. Miller says the building’s landmark weather ball tower – a steel structure holding a lighted globe 250 feet above the seven-story building – will be restored. In fact, the globe itself has already been illuminated again after years of darkness to serve as a beacon for the property’s redevelopment. Miller also plans to reuse the building’s terraces – one-time beer gardens for the brewery that offer sweeping views of the city. – I.M.