With the latest addition of developed riverfront property on the Mississippi River in and around the French Quarter, many local New Orleans’ businesses have expressed an interest in developing riverfront property into usable and money-making ventures to encourage more visitors, tourists, and business to come to New Orleans. Because of this, there are plans for the New Orleans Convention Center to expand its economic reach “upriver” on 47 acres of property. Owners of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are in talks with Howard Hughes Corp. and local developers Joe Jaeger and Darryl Berger to build a 1,200 room hotel which would also be surrounded with retail, entertainment, restaurants, and housing in the form of condos and apartments.
Because the current configuration of the Convention Center is “walled off” from the river, this new construction project will offer guests riverfront views, luxurious rooms in which to stay, and even a path from the new development to the current convention center for their meetings and seminars. This $65 million proposal would revamp Convention Boulevard, reducing it from 4 lanes to 2, and creating pedestrian-friendly walking areas for convention goers.
In addition to the hotel on which the construction is estimated at approximately $360 million to $600 million, there are also talks about creating a green space that extends all the way to the river – similar to but better than Woldenberg Park. The infrastructure construction would also include adding on to the streets of Euterpe, Race and Orange in the Lower Garden District so that the neighborhood would be connected to the new development.
“We’ve got to reclaim the parts that are not being used for maritime commerce and make the river a gathering place for our people and our visitors — generate some commerce, generate some opportunities for visitors and locals alike to come downtown and have a unique shopping experience or unique dining experience or some other attraction that’s uniquely New Orleans,” said Bob Johnson, president and general manager of the Morial Convention Center. “It would dwarf anything that’s been done, ever, in the city,” Johnson said.
Plans are still in the works and the new neighborhood is being designed by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and Manning Architects. This is just one of many riverfront projects that are in the planning stages in the Greater New Orleans area.