The committee charged with selecting a redevelopment plan for the Six Flags site is meeting today. We already know that the preferred use is going involve some sort of warehousing/logistics staging facility. The group everyone expects to win, Kiernan West, specializes in that sort of thing nationally and seems to be the most well situated (although the financial details aren't yet known to the public.)
Because this is a city-owned property, though, and especially because it was once an amusement park, the bidders have all been obligated to dress up their proposals with different grab bags full of public-facing amusements of varying worth and which may or may not ever become real. Us real Six Flags heads have been through enough of these exercises to have seen all kinds by now. No monorail this time, as far as we can tell. But at least one of the proposals has put the zipline idea back in. You love to see that.
Developers Wendell Armant, Gerald Billes and Shelly Wills have partnered with lender BlueBell International, design firm Gould Evans and others to build an array of homes and condos, a grocery store, a day care, and a hotel at the site.
Retail stores, a film studio, an amphitheater and a campground would help round out the $1.85 billion picture, as would a waterpark, wave pool, skate park and zip-line attraction.
But if we were giving odds, we'd probably put that one as the longest shot. Of course, Kiernan West is the favorite. But the dark horse underdog is something, amusingly called "Bayou Phoenix" which has to be be considered somewhat of a contender simply because it is Troy Henry. That "private police force" idea seems rather inspired.
Renaming the entire area Bayou Phoenix "would allow the area to shake the stigma associated with the former Jazzland/Six Flags name," developers said in a city presentation.
A private police force would also provide security on site to protect the massive investment, freeing up the New Orleans Police Department to work solely to manage the crime in the rest of the sprawling 7th District, Henry said.
But, most probably, they will give the deal to Kiernan West. They did, after all, go to the trouble of hiring some NFL players to do the promotional nonsense side of the project.
In the first round of evaluations in March, a plan from Kiernan West LLC of Colorado and S.H.I.E.L.D 1., a foundation launched by former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Saints linebacker Demario Davis and Buffalo Bills cornerback Joshua Norman, scored highest. That project, if chosen Tuesday, would bring an urban farm and a series of educational centers to the site, along with a transportation and logistics center.
What we haven't yet learned, though, is how much will the public pay to subsidize whatever project is chosen. Will the city retain ownership of the land? Will there be "tax incentives" given away to the developers? Each proposal includes widely varying estimates of the number "direct" and "indirect" jobs it will create. But we won't get clarity on what that means until we know more about what actually is getting built.
We have to assume in the meantime that the main piece of this will be the warehouse. And aside from worrying about what pretty little schemes go up around the warehouse, we should probably ask how the pay and working conditions will be there. Is the city adding any stipulations as to how workers are treated on the site? That sounds like something that could be added to a lease agreement. Will it, though? Probably not. But worth asking about.
Update: Turns out they couldn't settle on one today. Narrowed down to Kiernan West and Phoenix. Typically this suggests a play is in the works to maybe cut Henry in on the deal even if it does go to Kiernan West. But who knows.
Upperdate: Starting to think maybe Henry's group has a better than even chance now. Transdev is there, after all. Also, look what they're bringing.
The Bayou Phoenix proposal, created by Henry Consulting, TKTMJ Inc and master developer Hillwood of Dallas, scored 417 of 500. That plan would see a logistics hub, a water park, a 200-room hotel and a travel center.
It would also partner with Transdev, a French transit conglomerate that once managed New Orleans' mass transit system, to build light rail transit between Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner and the Six Flags property.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have found our monorail.