Residents of the West Bank may soon have something new to do on a summer afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, if Tipitina’s owner Roland von Kurnatowski and his business partner, Eric George have anything to say about it. They are currently in negotiations to develop and construct a new water park and outdoor music venue on the 4.5-acre plot of land on Lake Pontchartrain in eastern New Orleans. This acreage is where the Bally’s Riverboat Casino stood for many years before Hurricane Katrina forced it to close and move out of the state. The venue will not only sport the water park and outdoor amphitheater – designed to seat a 5,000 capacity – but there will also be construction and development for commercial and retail shops and venues on the west side of the proposed site. At the south end of the lakefront development, there could be a two-story building with room for a community market downstairs and a restaurant on the second floor.
The construction project has been the brainchild of Studio Network-Lakefront LLC, which is the company created by Tipitina’s owner and Dr. Eric George, a prominent New Orleans orthopedic surgeon. These men have a vested interest in the culture and heritage of New Orleans because they also purchased the Orpheum Theater last year and immediately began renovations on the structure to bring it back to its former glory. They pledged to put a total of $13 million into that project. Since construction on this building in New Orleans is moving along as scheduled, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra has agreed to start performing there when the theater is completed later in the year. So, complete renovations and seemingly impossible construction projects seems to be this pair’s forte, and New Orleans East’s lakeshore are will benefit from their expertise.
The history behind this 4.5-acre plot of lakefront land is that nothing was done to restore it once Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. With the “separation of powers,” in 2010 which created an actual Levee Authority which would oversee all properties along the levees, the land was assessed as hopeless because of the cost of the taxes and the deterioration of the property. Once this was realized, this and other properties were offered to the public for bids. The only bid on this property was from Studio Network-Lakefront, LLC. Their proposed project would be named Tipitina’s Festival Park and would include the following:
- An outdoor amphitheater with a 5,000 capacity
- A lazy river and splash park
- Water slides and zip lines
- A two-story, covered boardwalk with shops
- The conversion of the old riverboat terminal into an open-air market
Development and construction in New Orleans is always welcome especially after Hurricane Katrina, but it is enlightening and encouraging to have such an innovative concept introduced by Tipitina’s owner and his business partner who seem to have a soul-reaching interest in rebuilding and renovating New Orleans East on the lakefront of Lake Pontchartrain.