Mixed-Use Development to Form the Trade District in New Orleans

With the improvement in the national economy, developers want to seize the opportunity when it comes to mixed-use development. 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, the residential and commercial development growth has started to increase, especially in the last few years. The end of the Recession and the resurgence in the housing market has much to do with this growth with even places such as the Central Business District becoming more residential.

In addition to the Central Business District, New Orleans metro area also includes the Warehouse District and the Lower Garden District. Now, savvy developers have come up with the Trade District which will be located just 10 miles from The Parks of Plaquemines neighborhood on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. The vision for the new site is to create a master planned community consisting of an MGM Grand hotel, more than 1,400 residences, retail and restaurants and a towering needle-like sculpture all along the riverfront. The vacant land, which sitsMixed-Use Development Rendering for Trade District-1 upriver from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center between Pontchartrain Expressway and the Market Street power plant, is owned by the Convention Center and has been envisioned as a mixed-use development for many years.

The Convention Center plans to spend upward of $175 million dollars on the existing buildings and adding to the Center’s infrastructure to hopefully attract a whopping billion dollars in private investments for the project. The “big picture” plan is that the hotel, retail and restaurants will attract visitors to book meetings and conventions at the Convention Center which will help boost not only tourism but business from residents in towns such as Terrytown, Gretna and Westwego across the river on the West Bank of New Orleans. Developers on the project are in talks with the Howard Hughes Corporation, which developed and owns the Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, and Darryl Berger and Joe Jaeger local real estate moguls to appoint the lead developers of the new site.

Mark Bulmash, Howard Hughes senior vice president, plans for the mixed-use, real estate development project to take years to complete. He goes on to say that, “We think it’s the opportunity to really knit different neighborhoods together … It’s one of these projects that could be a seminal project in the city’s history if it all comes together.” He believes the new construction needs “to be executed well” and that the architectural design and ideas will constantly be changing in order to develop into the community as it is destined to be.

The first step in the multi-layered project is to spend $ 65 million to change the way traffic would flow around the Warehouse District by building a linear park with a moving walkway for pedestrians heading to the Convention Center. This will improve the pedestrian traffic that occurs around Convention Center Boulevard.

Mixed-Use Development Rendering for Trade District-2For the commercial aspect of the development, the plan is to incorporate an economic development district to levy special sales taxes which will eventually result in paying for parts of the commercial development. The “headquarters hotel campus” which will be comprised of conference spaces, restaurants, a spa, nightclubs and performance venues will include designers such as the MGM Hakkasan Hospitality group which will aid with the design and execution of the added amenities for the hotel.

The Trade House has been described as the “culinary emporium” where food venders and chefs come under the same roof selling their creations at the intersection of Tchoupitoulas and Race Streets. The concept of the Trade House is patterned after the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco and Pike Place in Seattle. The Riverfront Building will include restaurants as well as an additional 250,000 square feet of retail space adding to the already 50,000 square feet of retail sales areas in the hotel.

Another area will be a “cultural campus” concept where there will be possibilities for research, higher education and museums. The residential potential totals to 1, 427 new homes and rentals consisting of 29 townhouses, 979 apartments, 359 condos and 60 “MGM Skyloft” units at the top of the hotel. The whole neighborhood will also have a public green space throughout the development.

Many are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this project and what it will bring to this underdeveloped section of the city.



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