What’s Next For the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center’s Upriver Land

The 1200-room hotel on the upriver end of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is the first part of the new entertainment district planned for the Convention Center’s 47 upriver acres. The $558 million hotel is scheduled to be completed in late 2023 with a grand opening in early 2024.

The Convention Center’s officials now want to focus on the remaining development of the entertainment district. They have extended the deadline for accepting proposals from developers to develop 20 of the 47 acres.

The extended deadline came under pressure from developers from local and national firms saying the initial timeline was too short to propose for such a large development. Michael Sawaya, the Convention Center’s president and general manager, made the decision to push the deadline back two weeks since there is such high level of interest from developers.

Officials envision retail outlets, private residences and entertainment venues on the empty space between Tchoupitoulas Street and the Mississippi River. The land, which is one of the city’s largest untouched properties, would make an excellent new district for the city. It would keep the area competitive with other tourism destinations.

“This project is going to define what New Orleans is for the foreseeable future,” Barry Kern, who owns Mardi Gras World, said. “A lot of other cities that we do business with are seeing these type of things happen, but none of them have the music, food, and culture of New Orleans. We have a competitive advantage over any other city, but the only way we’re going to keep that is to be super creative in what happens with this.”

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