Thursday, May 21, 2015

Disney theory

Back in March, some of us were a bit surprised to learn that the selection committee in charge of deciding who would redevelop the World Trade Center site had picked the Carpenter & Woodward Four Seasons team rather than Daryl Berger's Conrad proposal which.. according to my sloppy attempt at handicapping.. looked like the best bet.

A different losing team than the one I would have bet on was upset too. They're suing although it doesn't look like their suit has much of a chance. We'll worry about that later.. or not at all as the case may be.

Anyway, a big part of the reason the "Conrad" team seemed like a shoo-in to me was that it was loaded up with insider big-whigs like Berger and several others.
The proposal also contemplates the larger redevelopment of nearby riverfront property, including connecting both the Morial Convention Center and the former WTC building to the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel, connecting the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk to Convention Center Boulevard and making “significant aesthetic and practical enhancement” to Poydras Street.

The development partnership behind the plan is led by local developers Joe Jaeger, Darryl Berger and Roger Ogden plus Xavier University President Norman Francis.

Many of those names also were involved in the earlier "Tricentennial Consortium" bid to redevelop the WTC and erect an "iconic structure" at the site. That bid was unsuccessful. But, because the city decided to re-open the process this year, it seemed reasonable that they were getting a do-over.

As it turns out, they were. Sort of.  They aren't doing the WTC redevelopment.  Instead they get everything else in the area.
The Central Business District. The Warehouse District. The Lower Garden District.

And now, introducing, the Trade District.

A group of developers have presented an ambitious vision for a shiny new neighborhood on the riverfront with an MGM Grand hotel, more than 1,400 residences, blocks of retail and restaurants, and a towering needle-like sculpture for lofty views of the Mississippi River.

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, which owns the vacant land, is in talks with the Howard Hughes Corp., owner of the Outlet Collection at the Riverwalk, and local real estate moguls Darryl Berger and Joe Jaeger on becoming master developer for the site.
If everything goes according to plan, the "moguls" will begin the massive nice-things-for-rich-people project with $175 million in public money, at least. 

For some reason, there's just not as much momentum in the  building things for not-so-rich people department.
NEW ORLEANS —A high-profile $30 million project to redevelop one of the city's major housing developments has stalled, frustrating people who live there and prompting one member of the New Orleans City Council to demand action.

It can be seen from the Pontchartrain Expressway, driving into downtown New Orleans. Construction at the Guste Homes site in Central City has stopped.
But, hey, priorities, right? As Bob Johnson explained a few years ago, there's a tight investment schedule to stick to if you want to keep up with the Disneys.
“What we want to do with this is make it a new experience in New Orleans,” said convention center general manager Bob Johnson. “It’s the old Disney theory: Every two or three years, Disney opens a new attraction and people that are familiar with Disney will go back.

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