A New Orleans Riverfront Development Expansion Approved

The development that runs along the riverfront of Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to the Lower Garden District will be expanding. The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to extend a 47-acre special-zoning distract that allows relaxed height restrictions upriver.

The state owns a good bit of the district but the 16-acre add-on is owned by private owners. This includes property from Orange Street to Celest Street. The owners of this additional portion include Louis Lauricella and Brian Gibbs.

The new plan will also include more affordable housing that was not part of the original development. Now any residential development in the district will have 10% of the units dedicated to people who has an income less than 60% of the area’s median income. In addition, another 10% is set aside for those who do not exceed 120% of the median income.

In the new plan, there will also be a new multipurpose facility that will be located in the parking lot that is right across from the convention center at the Pontchartrain Expressway. Developers would like to see a facility that could potentially house a United Soccer League for New Orleans.

Currently, a great majority of the land is covered with tent encampments. The city wants to develop a plan to help relocate those that are living in tents on the land. “I’ve asked them to study whether or not there’s the feasibility of acquiring a hotel, or some other building to increase housing for people who are unhoused. We have so many abandoned properties, so many abandoned hotels. I think that there’s a possibility of rehabbing those,” explains District B Council member Lesli Harris.

The expanded development will house 900 mixed-income residential units worth around $250 million on the vacant Convention Center land. There will be around 850 apartment/hotel-style units, a hotel with 150 rooms, 400,000 square feet of office space and 140,000 square feet of retail. They will also build a linear park that will help with drainage and add space for public transit facilities.

The plan for the 16-acre parcel that is owned by the two private owners is still up in the air. The owners would like to convert the old power plant into an entertainment venue with a hotel and office space. Harris said this is still being looked at and is debatable whether the plans will be accepted.

“What I would like to do is keep the most impactful activities to the riverside so that it’s not really impeding into the neighborhood,” says Harris.

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