Neighbors have seen them come and go and can’t be more tickled that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have moved into the French Quarter.
“It’s great if they’re here to stay and to be a part of the community,” said Rayna Nielsen, who lives across the street from the early-1830s masonry mansion where the celebrity couple has been spotted in recent weeks.
Nielsen said the street was closed off while the couple moved in earlier this month.
Pitt’s latest film, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” has been filming in New Orleans since November.
Real estate records for the house, which is near the French Market, show it was purchased for $3.5 million in cash on Jan. 2. Neither Pitt nor Jolie are named in the transaction. Mondo Bongo Trust is listed as the buyer.
A real estate listing for the property shows the house has a grand spiral staircase, elevator, gourmet kitchen, a large private courtyard and a separate two-story guest house. It also has private parking for two cars — a luxury in the French Quarter.
As for whether the house will be their home, just how much time Pitt and Jolie and their three children will be spending in it remains unknown.
Their five-year-old son, Maddox, is old enough to be enrolled in school, though it is unclear whether the couple has selected a school for him in New Orleans. The other two children are daughters Zahara, 2, and 7-month-old Shiloh.
Calls to Pitt’s publicist were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Regardless of how much time they spend in New Orleans, residents here say they are a welcome addition to the city.
“They’re always trying to make a difference. They’re always trying to help out,” said Christina Cody, a waitress at a nearby restaurant whose co-workers have seen Pitt, though Cody has not.
“I want them to come in and eat,” she said.
The celebrity couple has helped raise awareness of the city’s devastation following Hurricane Katrina. Pitt, an architecture enthusiast, teamed up last year with Global Green USA to sponsor an eco-friendly design competition to rebuild parts of the city that were the hardest hit by the August 2005 storm.
Construction on the project will begin in the Holy Cross neighborhood in the city’s devastated Lower Ninth Ward in February or March, said Trevor Neilson, philanthropic and political adviser for the couple.
The project will include 12 apartment units, six single-family houses, a community center and day-care facility to be built on 1.5 acres along the Mississippi River, Neilson said.
Pitt’s film has a budget of $150 million, making it one of the most expensive productions in the state since Louisiana began offering tax incentives for the film industry in 2002.
The film also stars Cate Blanchett.