Shane Guidry has scrapped his plans to build a new corporate headquarters for his offshore transportation company, Harvey Gulf Marine, on the site of the former Texas Motel on Airline Drive.

But Guidry still plans to move Harvey Gulf out of its longtime home in the Hancock Whitney Center and relocate to Metairie.

Guidry confirmed Thursday that the company will be moving to the Galleria, where it has signed a 10-year lease for up to 24,000 square feet of office space. The move is planned for mid-2024, after renovations to the space are completed.

Renting space in the pricey class A office building for at least 10 years will not necessarily be less expensive than constructing a new $5 million building on the site of the former motel, which Guidry acquired early this year and subsequently demolished. But Guidry said the new arrangement better suits the company’s needs.

“With all the permits and variances we needed to build, it was getting to be too much trouble,” he said. “Plus, the biggest we could go on the site was 15,000 square feet and that’s just not enough space.”

Guidry still plans to redevelop the Airline Drive property and is exploring plans to build an indoor pickleball facility there, he said.

“I have fallen in love with the game and I think Metairie needs a high-quality, indoor facility,” he said.

There’s no timeline for the pickleball plans, but Guidry said he hopes to move quickly on it.??

骋耻颈诲谤测’蝉 announcement in May that Harvey Gulf and its 100 employees were leaving downtown New Orleans for Airline Drive was a blow to the CBD and to Orleans Parish economic development officials.

Adding salt to the wound were 骋耻颈诲谤测’蝉 very pointed comments at the time, attributing the move to public safety concerns amid the city’s rising crime rate.

Guidry lives in Old Metairie and he and his family have a long history in Jefferson Parish business and politics.

He is also a close ally of Jeff Landry, who has made New Orleans' violent crime rate a part of his gubernatorial campaign.

Guidry said this week his views on public safety in New Orleans have not changed, though he applauded Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s new pick to lead the New Orleans Police Department, former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

Harvey Gulf, which currently leases 24,000 square feet in the 1.25-million-square-foot Hancock Whitney Center on Poydras Street, isn’t the only tenant leaving the iconic high-rise and city’s largest office building in 2024.

Earlier Thursday, Shell announced it will relocate its 800 employees from the 308,000 square feet the company leases in the Poydras Street building for a new, custom-built mid-rise in the River District development.

Together, Shell and Harvey Gulf occupy about one-fourth of the total office space in the Hancock Whitney Center, which is already trying to fill nearly 210,000 square feet of vacant space, or about 16% of its total, online listings show.

With their departures, more than 40% of the building will be vacant if current occupancy rates hold.

The Hancock Whitney Center, which for most of its life was known as One Shell Square, has been owned since 2015 by California-based Hertz Investment Group. A local leasing agent for Hertz said the firm will be evaluating its options and was caught off guard by Shell’s announcement Thursday.

The local brokerage that handles leasing for the building, Corporate Realty, did not return calls seeking comment.

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Guidry has already demolished the former motel.)

Email Stephanie Riegel at stephanie.riegel@theadvocate.com.

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