At a recent Authority meeting, the board voted to approve terms for a mixed-use development of 39 acres of land adjacent to the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC). Advancing a partnership many months in the making, the board action grants RDNI the permission to proceed with developing plans that will fulfill the Authority’s vision to create new experiences for residents and visitors alike.
Of key importance to the agreement moving forward: the developers have made a hard commitment to a total of 900 mixed-income housing units, of which 450 will be affordable and workplace housing units.
According to experts, this agreement with RDNI provides a model for diversity and equity that may serve as a national model for public/private partnerships of this nature. The Authority created financial incentives for RDNI to distribute ownership of the eventual development to a diverse set of equity partners, while still meeting its fiduciary responsibilities.
The new development represents a generational opportunity to activate undeveloped urban riverfront land as a transformative asset for the New Orleans region and the state of Louisiana. Set to include new dining, retail, housing, and entertainment options, the riverfront hub will make the Convention Center more competitive in the national event and meeting marketplace.
“We are thrilled to partner with River District Neighborhood Investors as we work toward our shared vision of a vibrant riverfront neighborhood that will expand economic opportunities all around,” said Authority President Jerry Reyes. “This is a major milestone for all of us, as this partnership and project development plan will create hundreds of new jobs while providing additional business opportunities to small, emerging, and disadvantaged businesses enterprises in our community.”
The project plan is expected to have elements of a traditional mixed-use development, incorporating the latest trends in urban planning with a focus on creating green spaces and community gathering places as opportunities for greater engagement among members of the community and visitors alike. In addition to various dining, retail, and entertainment options, the abandoned former power plant on the adjacent property is expected to be transformed into a major anchor of activity.
“Our transformative project, the River District, is one step closer to reality today, thanks to the action of the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority,” said Louis Lauricella, Co-Managing Member of RDNI. “We want to thank Jerry Reyes and the Authority board for embracing our bold vision of New Orleans rising at this one-of-its-kind development. Our project will bring people, culture, and commerce together in a uniquely New Orleans, mixed-use neighborhood along the banks of the Mississippi River and contribute significantly to the local economy. We will continue to work intentionally on the project’s pre-construction and master planning, so we are able to break ground in 2023.”
Currently in the pre-development process, the NOENMCC and RDNI expect to commence construction of phase 1 of the development in Q3 of 2023.