WWL>Topics>>5-7-14 1:10pm Angela: on the NOLA riverfront

5-7-14 1:10pm Angela: on the NOLA riverfront

May 7, 2014|

Angela talks with Gary Lagrange of the Port of New Orleans, Melvin Rodrigue of the Convention Center, and architect Ray Manning about plans to transform the New Orleans riverfront.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well welcome to another special day and I just have to say on Monday we did a program with a greater New Orleans foundation helping to promote the given no. And I well remember the executive director sank. If we can just make one million dollars if we can just get 5000 people to give and certainly you've heard the numbers by now but I'm gonna repeat them. 2.2. Million dollars raised in 24 hour period over 191000. People who gave. So along with everybody else I say thank you New Orleans I knew we could do it it is gonna help 300. Nonprofits. And and you can just I get emails you can just sense how thrilled they -- but it was every ten dollar donation and about. So again thank. We have an extraordinary day today and we're gonna start with something that as I just said to Gary LaGrange is long overdue. As the city of New Orleans blossoms post-Katrina. One area not discussed enough is our riverfront. Just thirty years ago it was to be blocked -- the public for miles of warehouses in wars. Today it is filled with life and enterprise. But it's an area still very much evolving. Here to talk about what's happening to continue to open up the riverfront even more to the public is Gary LaGrange head of the Port of New Orleans. Melvin Rodrigue president of the Ernest morial exhibition hall authority the morial convention center. And rain Manning of the Manning architectural firm and I can't think three of the busiest guys in town for joining us for whole hour. I along with everybody else very excited about what's happening along the riverfront. Because it is life and that that's the word and I walk that so so often and I'm so thrilled. To see families down there young people down there elderly people -- walking in and joining our river. And yet it's still going so that's what we kind of wanted to talk about today where -- Let me start with them just for an update because we need this what is happening in our beautiful port. -- reporters reports prod him right now we've coming off the heels of three record years. In a row back to back and that's over aren't -- so things are really well. But developing the cruise ship terminal terminals I should say to album with a third on the horizon. That we're under way with now Poland avenue. Has been really prolific because -- industry has grown exponentially 880%. In the last ten years. So in its hollow mode of life was all because the mode of diversifying the -- as much as we could. Because of -- steel embargo that was placed on the port and other ports by the World Trade Organization in 2002. So that's when we really begin the full court press to look into cruise ship development. And working with with fellows like the two guys here with me today. The convention investors bureau -- -- you loans marketing corporation. Lieutenant governor's office and others got a lot of good cooperation -- so now it's real easy thing to do. To sell New Orleans and the port of new loans -- to vacations in one. Yes and that's a very good point because I see the people coming and going and they're staying. And are not just catching the ship it's a blessing for the locals who just wanna get on cruise ship I mean it too good to be true. But for those coming in how phenomenal. I want as did we have. Steal those cruise ships from Galveston in Florida. Well maybe a little ahead and a I would rather call on transitions. -- transitioned over from other ports. In so the answer to that will be for the most port yes but they do this all the time they usually takes an eighteen month lead time. To that note that a cruise ship industry or carrier's gonna move and you -- here so we usually know that eighteen months in advance. In the case of the new carnival dream we now have home ported here call and you'll and so the largest carnival ship in the world and the entire -- And that's the carnival dream. Which is 7000. Passengers and crew members that's a lot of people. There -- many small towns in -- statement that's yes so that's a lot of responsibility. It's a lot of people to move in and out and on any given weekend on conventions and -- board and Henderson street. Would cut 104 cruise ships home ported ships around. Norwegian Royal Caribbean and the two callable ships were moving 25000. Passengers -- up and on the streets. And let me tell you the ripple effect is phenomenal and you see the cab drivers are happy picking them up bringing the man. It's just it's not just those 7000 people enjoying the city it's everything else that your. Let me move over to Melvin -- with the convention center. First of all who ever designed -- that front forever changed I think everybody's impressions in just stunning. 10-Q and what you'll do that Christmas I would drive people over. To say look at this is so beautiful. But I know it's much more than that to -- and you all do have a plan for. Another in my -- fifty acres beyond where you are. We do we we're very excited about what the potential is today. We've been working. With mr. Manning for the last couple years. To look at what our vision and what our opportunities are for the future. We purchase that plan as an authority. Probably over the course of between twelve and fifteen years ago. Trying to put the Parcells together to get ready for an expansion. That expansion was set to move forward in 2005. And about two weeks after the first power things were driven. On that property. Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina it. And at that point in time as an authority. We decided that we would do everything that was in our power. To make the space that we had the best that it could be. And defuse the bombs. But retain the property. And focused on the brand New Orleans. And hospitality. In general. The culture of serving customers in being happy for the customers that we have. And not just the convention center you know all of our hoteliers and restaurant wars. Those that have attractions. Everybody. Focused on trying to speak with one voice in making what we have the best he can be. Happy to say that over the course of the last. You know three or four years. The fruits of those labors began a payoff. And I would say probably -- about. Two to three years two and have for years ago and we sat down and we said you know we need to start looking because we see on the horizon. He's a big projects that you just said it's about fifty acres of land. These are big project Saturn from -- and we need to start looking at the vision. Of what it's possible there has to continue to grow. The tourism and hospitality economy. Again what -- saying is there's going to be no more extension of the actual connection -- that decision has been made. Right there you know -- bloop -- Cranston and construction documents were in place construction was beginning. On what would have been an additional. Give or take 500000 square feet of additional exhibit space. The building that we have today is about three point one million square feet under roof. And a little over a million of that is contiguous exhibit space and what we've determined. Moving forward. He is we want to you. Anchor that into the building with some other components. That helps sell New Orleans. That help. Create a sustainable model for. You know the French Quarter by a -- making new attractions in and putting the infrastructure in place to for our city to be able to sustain. Growth. Of -- so. The model sort of changed and along the way. The competitive set changed so it almost became a blessing in disguise. You know people today aren't just adding. More exhibit space more exhibit space. They're they're finding ways to put pieces in place that are additional reasons for people to come to a convention city. And so that's we're excited about what the possibilities are. When we know I'm sorry you know we're gonna do we have to take a break the woman come back we're gonna talk about those possibilities Obama talked arraignment in about visions you hand. Stay with -- were talking about our beautiful river front product at this. Well we're talking about our magnificent riverfront. We're talking about the wonderful things that have already happened and really looking into the future. With Gary LaGrange who was head of the port of new orleans' Melvin Rodrigue who is president of the morial convention center and Ernest -- exhibit -- authority. And rain Manning -- Manning architectural firm and -- like to start with you as Melvin -- was saying there is a vision for the fifty acres. Which is not going to be convention center it's going to be as what Melvin says what's going to attract. Even more visitors to us and let's talk about the vision and as you said it's going into development. Yes. Thanks to the vision and and foresight of the convention center and its board. We started looking at this about two and a half years ago in terms of what was the possibilities and one of the things that mr. Ripa talked about earlier is that they competitive said it's changed for convention centers. I'm no longer do you just focus on how much the exhibit space to have but what are the amenities. The attractions that bring people there. And one of the things that happen -- all across the country every convention is in a major conventions and that we compete with a has done some type of a project where they look at the front door. And made it changed our front and and then they also look at the pedestrian amenities and attractions around their building. And that the third thing that they look at is. What is the direct connection to the -- convention center hotel. And so. The idea was to look at convention -- boulevard from portraits. All the way to Henderson. And then the phase foresight what was going to be phase four is about a 35 acre tract of land. And we looked at that in terms of what would be the right mix of they say uses for that. Those uses as we envision them and that vision plan and development plan would include a 12100 room hotel. Perhaps two towers. Approximately 300000 square foot retail. And also some entertainment. And you know uses that would attract people to that area. And also some residential. Part of the city's master plan had identified that side as one of the opportunity zones. For the future of this city of New Orleans and taking a cue from that will look at that and we think that will attract. You know major. Developer who will the will be advertisement convinced it's going to be advertising for major developer for that site. But in the meantime we are also planning. For the conventional boulevard. A pedestrian oriented. Use of a convention center boulevard -- Will be and we're in discussions now with the city are PC in the state Louisiana Department of Transportation. About. Perhaps reducing. The amount of traffic. Vehicular traffic while at the same time organizing. All of those vehicles that we did count on to run the convention on buses and attack us. And and and also. Looking at all of the issues related to pedestrian movement in that area and that space would become. I would say a much more green open space in other words and you come out of the convention center into what essentially will be a green belt or part. And and then be able to move along that part and also to give us more connectivity with. All of the activity that's happening in the warehouse district. Tremendous and arts district. Tremendous we actually did -- show yesterday talking with developers and realtors about what is happening. In the downtown area and it just blows your mind what's happening so I can envision exactly which -- saying. The area the 35 acres is it where. Money -- world. Exactly and in fact the that the vision plan even includes. Some. Changes -- views on that site we we envision. In the future. That though we might be able to build again not part of this initial project but at some point in the future and discussions with that the owners of that property to -- university. To build a park there which would be the equivalent size of what you have water -- apart near the aquarium. And that would include an amphitheater. And what we believe would be some -- plug in play. Pavilions where it would be really made for festivals and and the ability to do food service and and again. Similar kinds of activities that we have that at the French market festival and again another whole area one of the ideas is that. As we grow our tourism. We have to release some of the pressure on the French Quarter. We we simply have to do that because again if we did the Boston consultant group which was hired by the a tourism and marketing. Arm of the state under then mayor. -- lieutenant governor Blanchard. Suggested that. Our goal should be to bring approximately thirteen point seven million visitors to the city where it. Probably about ten million visitors as we speak. Two in order to do that we have to have some. Additional venues some additional areas in which people are going to be moving in the city we have a triangle. Between the arena and that and the dome. The convention center in the French Quarter and included -- and that is now the new medical district and all of those things and so we're looking at ways in which we can grow. The footprint of tourism in the city and this project that we're talking about. Which all in values -- probably about a 600 million dollar project but again. The convention center is going to be -- that developers for that there's there's not a lot of city or state or -- and money -- that we're simply put in the land into play. There to develop that that type of mixed use -- -- hotel come in and they rent. Yeah I'm not sure -- that. You know the structure is yet to be specifically. And now. But it is -- thought that we would enter into a private public partnership. At which time. The convention center. What's been somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 million dollars. There'd be several components that would happen mister Manning spoke of some of them won first and foremost would be. The the re do of the streets that is convention center boulevard. From pointers where Harris is all the way to this property that we're looking to develop. And it's multifaceted. What it accomplishes. First of all it makes it beautify it look at you mentioned earlier what happened to the front door of the conventions and when we -- did. That entrance. That was important. So when we say -- do you connections and -- boulevard. Would reduce treats -- put in what we call -- Linear park and at that point in time we would be able to master plan how the traffic would flow. And actually help access. And putting and of people mover if you will the buildings three quarters of a mile long. And so when you have a group that's taken the entire building. For them to get from one side to the other. This would be helpful. And and -- selling point too large groups that would be coming into town meaning people -- like in an airport. Yeah that kind of there's there's lots of opportunities in different ways that we may be able to do it -- and and we're sort of you know we wanna. Place some of that out with whoever our private partners because it would go following that property are you envisioning this Linear park and would not allow cars. Unknown -- we would we was still maintain traffic. The the basic ideas currently is there's there's two lanes on either side of the medium and and parking. -- vision is that from the edge of the media and on the analysts say the -- out of the street. You would then have two lanes of traffic going both ways. A bus and taxi lane and parking -- on that side and the rest of the space from that side would be dream. And it would also include space for -- people mover. Or moving sidewalks. Or other. And amenities and and necessities in fact that help move people from that man from let's say reporters all the way to Henderson street. That's that's a nice high camp and hike if you if you you know if you convention there and also we're looking -- all of the issues related to not just. The capacity on conventions and boulevard when you start making those kinds of changes to. The volume capacity. And also of the uses that depend on that street as an example. Cruise ship terminal. We're working very closely we've been in. And a number of stakeholder meetings with the -- with the Port of New Orleans and all the other. Entities around -- so that we make sure that we get it right and make sure that we're looking at all of the issues related to other streets in the and and capacities in the area. Because we also have a train track we also have I mean that is a lot going on down there yeah we're gonna have to take another break to go to the newsroom but only come back. We're gonna continue this development in the and vision of our riverfront and also ask -- questions about. What about the World Trade Center and and let's talk about. The new shopping mall right after this and at that. Once again we are talking about our riverfront with Gary LaGrange who's head of the -- Melvin Rodrigue with the convention center and rain Manning. With the Manning architecture firm exciting visions and I think that's. What we're hearing and -- saying gee I didn't have my visuals you don't need them to -- he described everything beautifully. But it is about keeping competitive. And and thinking forward which is beautiful. If we can kind of go back for second because recently as you'll know in the in the news is the World Trade Center and somebody isn't building jinxed -- How many almost two decades have we talked about what's gonna happen talk about a prime piece of property. It's a very prime piece of property. It's you know. I think there are a lot of people that are intrigued. By the city's. Announcement. Last week -- week before that said that they're looking. You know. For something new to do with that that's base I think there are a lot of people intrigued by private developers on shore. And the like. That you know you you alluded to earlier Angela the necessity for maintaining the railroad or the fact that there is a railroad there. And that's a key component as you know the railroad goes right under the real World Trade Center building. In dog. The closure of that railroad would be Armageddon to the port. It would be deadly in the sense that it was created in 19052. Service report. And it connects to vital areas of the port won the newest and most vibrant area. And that's the old France Jordan -- area in New Orleans east it's -- developing that's been retrofitted since the closure of the mr. go following Hurricane Katrina. It is becoming quickly a new international transportation logistics hub. Bringing back a lot of our chemical products that that we loss to Houston that from the chemical plants manufacture here between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Bringing that product back to New Orleans and -- -- to ship it. Out of the port of new -- ones at the container terminal Napoleon and Asheville as opposed to Houston. So without that railroad we lose we lose the -- clout in the entire future of the port. And as a listen to the plans that ray alluded to four convention center boulevard. The underlying factor in and re getting good job in describing the master plan overall. There's got to be thoroughfare plan a major thoroughfare plan that goes hand in glove with that with safety valves employed as well. To handle the the additional and increased the actual flow that you gonna have obviously. With a 12100 room hotel but obviously with an increasingly growing container terminal as well. So that's something that's got to be looked at it and it is being looked -- understand in the master plan and I know that we've got DO TV looking at it as well. Are trying to better utilized some of the off ramps hov ramps and things of that nature from the bridge itself down -- to -- but to us. So those those are areas my point is simply that we can't overlook the transportation and the access and -- to all of these problems. Right now no it's. I mean having lived there now almost twenty years and a lot of respect for veteran. And the whole system and yet I -- in the importance to what you're talking about. So are you thinking in those terms as well. Absolutely. We had. We've. In the last missing nine days or so. We convened a meeting not -- their regional planning commission. And the stakeholders involved. That meeting was led by the city of new ones William Gilchrist who's -- director of plays based planning for the city. And all of all of the entities involved the RPC. DOT the support to convince a senator. All of the consultant groups that were involved in all of this thinking. Made presentations and talked about how we would handle some issues that missile -- just talk about. We certainly are not proposing something in a vacuum. We have been working very diligently. And continued to run on a day by day basis to make sure that we do no harm. To the vital interest of the port. The the thing that's an important and doing that is that when you do traffic analysis when you do master plan in an urban design. All of those issues are like hand and glove and basically what we've done is that we're at a point now where we've looked at all the traffic volumes and we looked at some of the intersections where. The trucks are coming into that area. The hov lane. And -- I think we've come up with some pretty good ideas about how to make sure that no one is harmed in and in the plan that we're doing and also. How we make it walk oval we were talking before we came in New Orleans is one of the most walk global cities in the US and the world. And -- we certainly want to make this this plan that we do and at the convention -- make sure that it works would not just the walk ability of New Orleans but also. The interest of the port have to be looked dead and and also the interest of the CD and all -- traffic volumes in the warehouse district and the new neighborhood that we -- creating. And allotted -- imply that that we weren't working together certainly are absolutely working the other were arm in arm together on it. But it's a key component that's simply can't be overlooked. And something that we haven't talked about his. -- is designing another terminal for you -- the Poland. -- yeah right and and that's huge mountain you talk about the rebirth of that area. We started with -- guys I think we're talking about this earlier. In 20044. Before the storm looking and at that time we were going through the neighborhood. Mean and efficacy process where we were trying to make sure that we. The port was concerned as as they should have been. In terms of how they were gonna impact that neighborhood and we had a number of community means it came up with the design obviously we were moving along with funding. Strange and then the storm and so we've continued to in fact I believe we have now been given authorization to proceed with the design of the 24 hours ago -- -- -- and so breaking news here yes and so we're we're very anxious we've been working with the firm. Mr. Romeo. Out of Miami who is one of the of the world leaders and and cruise ship normally works all over the world and we've been working with him since inception of this project and we believe that we gonna come -- with a design that that obviously works. For the for the port and four is that industry but also. It is at the down river end of the crescent city park and so it it can be and anchored to that park in terms of activity and there's some opportunities there that we wanna try to make sure that we take advantage. Right and that I wanna go back just a step further I think the entire process began back and actually 2002. When the notion of well. We can't use press and piety and -- and congress and there's certain -- orange that are just not usable there. The -- -- data and something needs to be done with them they need to be disposed off. And and you used needs to be redefined formed Solis at that point that we coined the phrase let's give the river back to the people. And when we did that because it would not Malone a viable for maritime use. That's when. We began negotiating with the city of the port -- and ultimately wound up with a cooperative endeavor agreement in 2006. Some four years later. That resulted in the port giving those -- Dobson those properties. Back to the city for the development of the sparks. In order that we could have a five to six -- -- -- pork that was alluded to earlier by Melvin. That would. Give the river back to the people and that we think that's a huge portion of it and make and it totally pedestrian friendly all along the way. Not just from visitors for citizens if you might oh absolutely we're talking citizens to it's exciting everybody stay with -- we're not done financial under the WL. Well we are back talking about what's happening along our riverfront we have a caller David from New Orleans I appreciate your holding on. David. What are you their David. Well. I guess like in here yes. Buckets are that yet and question about. -- world -- are all taxing districts. Feel like my interest so that we care immigrant talk about diet betrayed in the board. Really -- out of school are residents here businesses many people I columns. And so much -- focused on terrorism that you know get -- yesterday were talking about. To -- 300 dollar per square foot weren't -- in the quarter but yet they also said that. Many of those people boycott those rent in the quarter or downtown or temporary red -- people five homes -- their. Attorneys a thing like that on your part time and you know a Wall Street can count and it is nobody there. And I know some restaurants are talking about they're hurting so on -- program and it's -- tourist industry so my question lies. About the development I'm hearing a lot of people that it will injured wants something -- the term they use would that -- -- slow walk. You know these -- sister in law is economic development director and developer with the World Trade Center that developers trying to do so and a couple of years ago it. Six Flags and a couple of others. That said multiple times that it it is important that don't want it. Which we want portraits very developed. You don't get any help and that there's really no negotiation just for show. And if -- got to talk about that. You know what can be done to make sure that. It's an open process and that. Brilliantly on the sort of thing. -- a one thing though I'm not gonna speak for mayor Landrieu at all but I do know that he is the first when he says this community needs more money. And whoever does the world's Trajan is gonna make. Help us make more money -- so and I'm questioning whether he's sitting on it or not but -- eat your thoughts. Quite honestly. I'm always interceded when I hear that kind of a comment. Because I know. Many of the people who are involved in them Andrew administration and I'm I'm a big supporter of the mayor. And the fact is that the mayor realizes he has an asset. The World Trade Center is an asset. And I know that. He's very committed to make sure that the city gets its value out of that that says. And therefore any negotiation. You have a perspective as as the owner and you and the developer has has a perspective and again I think that the -- interest in and with all of the requirements -- the city budget has -- and that is increasing with some of the issues that have occurred recently with consent decrees. The mayor is trying to make sure that he gets his value out of every asset that he's responsible for and I don't believe that he's slow walk in any thing in a negotiation. You have to parties and and and and and both parties have to be willing to move forward with the right terms I think what. As I said to you before. This project has been in the public domain now for three administrations. It is not an easy project. Is some of it has to do with some of the physical nature of the building and its location and that the the adjacency apart -- It the adjacency. A number of intersections come together there. This is one of the most important intersections in the city where you have canal street. And Porter street meeting at the end of the river and there are a lot of moving parts in this equation. But I know that foremost and I know that this administration wants to make sure that. He gets value for its property and we're. Simply I know that the administration is not going to give away that Bassett. Unless it's profitable and and makes money for the city. So does the process now start over. I would I would believe so I would imagine that they'll be a new RPM and the lessons learned from. This previous RP will be taken into account. There are many developers who I speak to who have very anxious and excited about this project and I think they'll. That you will see a competitive process again and again out of I was at the public presentation of all of developers and I can imagine a more open process. So I believe that that'll be happening. Stay with us we'll be right. Gary LaGrange Melvin Rodrigue and -- Manning thank you so much. You bring in our riverfront back and I think that's what it's all about we will continue to subject another time. I just wanna thank you again and done on --