WHAT: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has opened an application site for its TSA Pre✓™ Application Program in New Orleans and many other cities across the state.
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents will now be able to go through a pre-enrollment process online atwww.TSA.gov, make an appointment and complete their enrollment at the application center in New Orleans to verify their identity and provide documentation to confirm their citizenship/immigration status as well as to provide fingerprints.
TSA is currently in the process of expanding to more than 300 application centers across the country. This is the first in New Orleans. Other centers have opened in LaPlace, Lafayette, Morgan City, Mandeville, Houma, Cut Off, Brusly, and New Iberia.
For more information, please visit: http://www.TSA.gov/tsa-precheck/application-program
WHO: TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz.
WHAT: one-on-one interviews and B-roll or photos of fingerprints being taken.
WHEN: Wednesday, February 19th from 11:00 a.m. to Noon.
WHERE: Universal Enrollment Center, 1881 Rousseau Street, Suite 3, New Orleans, La. 70130
Riders not required to pay new fares yet
A new operator will be coming to the New Orleans-area ferry system on Sunday as Veolia Transportation, the company that runs the city’s Regional Transit Authority buses and streetcars, formally takes over the waterborne routes.
But, for now, riders will not have to pay the new fares that were set to go along with the company’s takeover of the Algiers Point-Canal Street and Chalmette routes.
The company’s Friday announcement comes months after the groundwork for the takeover was laid as state legislators scrambled last year for a way to keep the ferries running without funding from the Crescent City Connection’s tolls.
Officials had originally anticipated the state Department of Transportation and Development would turn over the keys to the ferries in October, but discussions and the need to get regulatory clearance for the French company to run vessels in U.S. waters caused delays that were only wrapped up this week.
“The ink is still drying; we got the final word within the last few days,” Veolia spokeswoman Patrice Bell Mercadel said Friday. “It’s very new, and we are jumping in and very ready to commence the ferry operations.”
At least at first, the takeover will not result in longer hours for the ferry routes, which saw their schedules slashed by the state as a cost-saving measure. Algiers Point residents and businesses have been vocal about the need for longer hours, ideally allowing that route to run until at least midnight so that service-industry workers on late shifts in the French Quarter and tourists exploring the nightlife on the West Bank can make their way back to their respective beds.
Any additional hours will depend on how ridership stacks up under the new system and how much money the company is able to generate through fares.
“We are committed to providing as much service as we possibly can with the fare revenue,” Mercadel said.
“There are already conversations under way internally and with our constituency groups to make sure people are being provided a good base level of service that meets their needs,” she said.
For now, however, the Algiers Point route will continue making its first run at 7:15 a.m. on weekdays and 10:45 a.m. on weekends. The last run of the day is still 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
An announcement on special schedules for Mardi Gras is expected next week.
The Chalmette route runs from 6 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. every day.
Veolia originally announced the new fares would go into effect at the same time as the takeover, but it reversed course Friday night.
In an email, company officials said they are delaying implementing the new fares and will notify riders before they go into effect.
Those new charges will end what are now free trips across the river for pedestrians. They will also result in higher costs for motorists, who now pay $1 per vehicle.
Veolia officials have said the fares, approved by the City Council last year, are needed to bridge the $2.8 million gap between the $6 million the state is putting into the ferries and the amount they cost to operate.
The Algiers Point route, which serves about 1.2 million riders each year, will remain pedestrian-only, while the Chalmette route, which carries half a million cars a year, will continue to carry vehicles as well. For both routes, a ride for most pedestrians will cost $2 each way once the new fares go into effect, with reduced fares of $1 each way for senior citizens and the disabled. Children younger than 2 will ride for free.
On the Chalmette route, the new fares will require drivers to pay $2 each way while each passenger will pay $1. Bringing a trailer on the ferry will cost $3 each way. Drivers are also eligible for the same discounts as pedestrians.
The privatization of the ferries has been bandied about since 2012, when lawmakers severed the links between the routes and their traditional funding source, the tolls on the CCC. That move was made to separate the fate of the ferries from that of the tolls, whose continuation was rejected by voters in a later referendum, with the expectation that a private firm would take over operations.
But no company stepped forward, prompting lawmakers last year to vote to let the RTA operate the routes with new funding.
The state has also offered a deal that could help subsidize an upgrade of the aging, expensive ferries; officials hope the work would cut the costs to run the routes.
The contract between Veolia and the transportation department was not available Friday.
Jefferson Parish tourism officials are looking into a proposal that would allow hotels in the parish to decide whether to impose a new tax on their guests and direct that money to bolstering tourism efforts in the parish.
The plan, still in its early stages, is modeled on a similar assessment the state Legislature authorized for hotels in New Orleans last year. Orleans hotel owners are now in the process of deciding whether that additional charge will actually be put in place.
At the moment, Jefferson tourism leaders are still working out the details of the plan, such as determining whether there’s support among hotel owners and how large a charge would be imposed on hotel guests.
“This is a starting point, and many steps have to happen from here,” Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Violet Peters said.
Senate Bill 44 is a “mirror image of what (Sen.) Ed Murray did last year for Orleans — a way to get some money to the tourism business,” said Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, the measure’s sponsor.
Until the details are worked out, the proposed legislation is essentially a placeholder to ensure something can be passed this year.
The measure was introduced at the request of the parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Martiny said he’s looking to that group for guidance on exactly how the details of the measure will play out.
Traditionally, the Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau’s $1.2 million annual budget has been focused on attracting groups of visitors to Jefferson Parish, with little money going to marketing directed at individual tourists. That changed when the organization received a $2.1 million grant from BP, spread over three years, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
With that new money, the organization was able to expand its efforts toward persuading tourists to spend at least part of their time in the New Orleans area in Jefferson Parish through efforts that highlight outdoor activities and seafood restaurants.
“One of the things we’ve been working on with the grant dollars is to try to help that trend, to get the New Orleans visitor to know what we have to offer and to day-trip into Jefferson as well,” Peters said.
Peters said Jefferson has more of a complementary than a competitive relationship with New Orleans when it comes to attracting visitors, and the two areas are focused on different types of travelers. “The leisure visitor that wants to stay downtown is not our visitor,” Peters said. “We’re more of the outdoor enthusiast, the economical visitor, the visitor that wants to be close to the airport.”
Competition, instead, comes from areas across the state that are similar to Jefferson Parish.
The Jefferson Convention and Visitors Bureau operates with a relatively small budget compared with similar organizations across the state, Peters said. The tourism organizations in Lafayette and Lake Charles both have $3 million budgets, while Baton Rouge’s group spends about $2.5 million a year, she said.
“These are the folks you’re competing against when you’re looking at the leisure business,” Peters said.
Replacing the BP dollars and helping to bridge that gap would be the main purpose of the hotel charge, Peters said.
Under the New Orleans plan, hotels can impose a 1.75 percent tax on guests’ bills if the hotel owners agree to the proposal. Each hotel that is a member of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau is able to cast as many ballots on the issue as it has rooms.
The actual vote is being handled by the New Orleans Hotel and Lodging Association, and only hotels that are members of the organization are liable for the assessment.
Ballots for that vote have been sent out to hotels and are due back by Feb. 21, said Mavis Early, executive director of the Hotel and Lodging Association.
Though not required by the law itself, city and tourism officials said last year that about 1.5 percentage points of the new 1.75 percent tax would go to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to aid in marketing efforts. The remaining .25 percent would go to the city to be spent on infrastructure, public safety and other issues.
The New Orleans plan raised concerns from some neighborhood activists, who said not enough of the money was being directed toward the city and its residents. The Bureau of Governmental Research, a nonpartisan think tank in New Orleans, also came out against the proposal, arguing that levying a new hotel tax would make it more difficult to pass other, more general tax measures to fund city services or obligations.
In Jefferson, Peters said, the new assessment would help bring in additional tourists, encouraging more spending that would benefit businesses and residents. A 2012 study found tourism in Jefferson is about a $1 billion-a-year industry, compared with about $3.5 billion in New Orleans, she said.
“You really can see the results of what we’ve been trying to accomplish,” she said.
Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) announced the launch of Destination GNO, an innovative relocation website designed to highlight the high quality of life in Greater New Orleans. This website was originally designed in response to the needs of local companies in recruiting workforce to the region, and is intended to be used as both a recruitment tool for local companies as well as for the general public considering relocating.
“Destination GNO is an innovative new tool that was designed to change perceptions about life in Greater New Orleans,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “The site will convey to employees considering relocating to the region that whether you’re seeking an urban, suburban, or rural lifestyle, Greater New Orleans has it all.”
“We are pleased to be able to assist GNO, Inc. in producing this valuable resource. This exciting, innovative website supports Southeast Louisiana’s economic growth,” said Sakari Morrison, Public Affairs Manager for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “With one visit to destinationgno.com, people from around the world can tour Greater New Orleans neighborhoods, explore our region’s culture, character and cuisine, and see why this is a great place to live and do business.”
The site highlights 48 communities around the region, includes a moving guide, and highlights information about New Orleans’ rich arts and culture, climate, cost of living, economy, education, emergency preparedness, healthcare, parenting, public safety, shopping, and transportation. The site also allows users to select lifestyle attributes important to them and populates suggested communities based on their selections.
“This site is a valuable tool for our young professional members to use and learn about the neighborhoods and towns which make up this region,” said Jessica Shahien, Executive Director of 504ward. “Additionally, DestinationGNO.com will become the go-to recruitment tool for friends and colleagues of our members around the country who want to live in an area that fits their lifestyle needs and desires.”
Funding for this project was generously provided by Chevron. The website was designed in collaboration with Mirliton Media, Keating Magee, and 504ward.
View Destination GNO by visiting www.destinationgno.com.
February 11, 2014
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport scored big with Alaska Airlines announcing it will begin scheduled service from New Orleans to Seattle, Washington. Alaska will inaugurate the new non-stop service on June 12, 2014 with their 737-800 aircraft. The new daily service will depart Seattle at 10:15 a.m. and arrive in New Orleans at 5 p.m. The carrier will depart New Orleans at 5:55 p.m. and arrive in Seattle at 8:50 p.m.
Alaska Airlines’ is a low-cost airline with humble beginnings that started in 1932 as McGee Airways flying out of Anchorage, Alaska. In 1934, McGee Airways merged with Star Air Service in 1934 creating the largest airline in Alaska with a fleet of 22 bush-flying aircraft. The business endured hardships but expanded in ’37 with the purchase of Alaska Interior Airlines. In 1944, the airline officially became known as Alaska Airlines. The current decade has seen Alaska Airlines stretch its wings with its Boeing 737 fleet across the Lower 48 states to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Newark, Orlando, Washington D.C. and now New Orleans.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “This announcement by Alaskan Airlines is another example of the growing demand for service in the New Orleans region as we continue to build a world-class airport. The non-stop service to Seattle offers a new and exciting option for those traveling to and from our region and connects the Pacific Northwest to the Gulf South.”
“This inaugural service to Seattle aboard Alaska Airlines is a monumental achievement in expanding air service for our community and region”, said New Orleans Aviation Board Chairwoman Cheryl Teamer. “We know this flight will be very popular.”
“With this announcement, we are not only getting a new destination but also a new airline,” stated Iftikhar Ahmad, Director of Aviation for Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. “Alaska is a premier airline which we have sought aggressively for the last two years. This is our sixth additional air carrier and 11th new destination in last four years.”
Matt Wolfe, GNO Inc.
NEW ORLEANS – Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) President and CEO Michael Hecht joined Governor Bobby Jindal, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and International Shipholding Corporation President Erik L. Johnsen to announce that the company will relocate its corporate headquarters from Mobile, AL to New Orleans, where the company was founded in 1947. After Hurricane Katrina, recovery challenges led ISC to relocate its corporate headquarters to Mobile. GNO, Inc. has worked closely with International Shipholding Corporation and Louisiana Economic Development since June 2013 to ensure its return to the region.
“Greater New Orleans, Inc. is proud to be part of the team that has helped bring International Shipholding back to New Orleans,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “International Shipholding’s return is a double-win for the region. First, we are gaining 100 new direct jobs and $10 million in investment. But even more importantly, International Shipholding’s return to New Orleans heralds a broader, deeply important trend – the best people and companies are coming home.”
“We are pleased to be returning to New Orleans where the Mississippi River once again plays an important strategic role for our company,” ISC President Erik L. Johnsen said. “We are excited to be returning at a time when the city has made significant progress in its recovery. We further believe we will be better-positioned in New Orleans to take advantage of transportation opportunities from the significant industrial investment being made in the state.”
In New Orleans, ISC will create 100 new direct jobs at a 45,000- to 50,000-square-foot headquarters facility in the city’s Warehouse District, where the company will soon complete a purchase of property already under contract. The new direct jobs will average $70,000 per year, plus benefits, and Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 113 new indirect jobs, for a total of more than 210 new jobs in the greater New Orleans area.
Gov. Jindal said, “I am excited to announce the return of International Shipholding Corporation to New Orleans, where ISH will continue a great tradition of maritime and international commerce companies operating in Louisiana’s largest city. ISH could have stayed in Mobile, but they are coming back home because of our strong business climate, expanding industrial projects, resurgent New Orleans economy, and business growth along the Mississippi River.
“We have worked long and hard to bring back this storied company to its rightful place in New Orleans. Not only is this a great international commerce win for our state, but ISH will provide outstanding professional career opportunities in New Orleans and add another publicly held company to our growing business community. International Shipholding’s return affirms a genuine truth about New Orleans – this city is back, and better than ever before.”
“New Orleans is open for business, attracting private investment and introducing major developments in neighborhoods across the city,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “The return of International Shipholding reflects the economic growth, jobs and increasing opportunities that will help us rebuild better than we were before.”
International Shipholding Corp. will conduct its headquarters facility renovation in 2014 and 2015 and relocate employees and resources as the corporate headquarters is completed. The entire transition will be concluded by the fourth quarter of 2015, when ISC will begin formal operation of its headquarters in New Orleans.
Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, ISC owns and operates a global fleet of waterborne cargo vessels. The company recorded annual revenue of more than $310 million in its just concluded 2013 fiscal year.
Since it opened in 1999, the New Orleans Arena has been without a corporate name.
But on Thursday, it will officially become the Smoothie King Center.
After extensive negotiations that lasted for nearly a year, the Pelicans and Smoothie King agreed to a 10-year naming rights deal that includes an option for the company to renew for an additional 10 years.
“It’s gigantic,’’ Pelicans president Dennis Lauscha said Wednesday afternoon.“Aside from the branding of the team, besides the practice facility, finding a naming rights partner was key to the long-term financial viability of this franchise in this market.We put it right at the top of the list of things that needed to be accomplished.’’
Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. But the total value of the deal is believed to be estimated around $40 million.
A formal news conference is scheduled for Thursday to announce the deal.
The most recent naming rights deal in the NBA came this past August, when the Portland Trail Blazers sold the naming rights to the Rose Garden to Moda Health, a health and dental insurance company that operates in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The facility is now called the Moda Center.
Smoothie King is headquartered in Metairie and the company has more than 650 locations in the United States and Asia.
The Pelicans considered offers from two other undisclosed companies, along with Smoothie King. But Lauscha said Smoothie King won out because it was a local company with aggressive growth plans similar to the franchise’s objectives.
“This really gives us a great opportunity for us to grow our brand internationally and domestically from New Orleans,’’ said Wan Kim, Smoothie King owner and CEO, who purchased the company in 2012.
New Orleans Arena has been the Hornets/Pelicans only home since the franchise relocated from Charlotte, N.C. in 2002.
Before the new naming rights deal could be consummated, the NBA hired an independent agency to test all of Smoothie King’s products in order to make sure they met the league’s policy against banned supplements.
“To test all of those products so that they approve it, took a very long time and a great deal of investment from Smoothie King,’’ said Rita Benson LeBlanc, the Pelicans vice chairman of the board.
Smoothie King will get worldwide exposure quickly. The Feb. 16 NBA All-Star Star Game will be played at the facility.The All-Star Game, which is televised and broadcast on radio, will collectively reach fans in 215 countries and territories, according to the NBA.
But the first national exposure will come Friday night when the Pelicans play the Minnesota Timberwolves in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
Smoothie King president Tom O’Keefe said they will have signs up with the new name inside the Arena for Friday’s game.
Until Wednesday’s deal, the Pelicans were one of only three teams in the NBA that played in a arena that didn’t bear a corporate name.
Now, Madison Square Garden, where the New York Knicks play, and the Palace of Auburn Hills, which is Detroit Pistons home arena, are the only remaining NBA arena’s without a naming rights deal.
Since Saints/Pelicans owner Tom Benson purchased the Pelicans for $338 million from the NBA in April 2012, he’s pushed to get a naming rights deal.
The Louisiana ArtWorks building on Howard Avenue near Lee Circle, most recently the site of a well-intentioned but ill-fated arts venture, will become a culinary school.
The New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute has been selected to take over the building, an agent for the building announced Wednesday.
The Louisiana Artist Guild, the nonprofit that owns the building, selected the culinary institute from a group of three finalists.
The nonprofit institute — led by restaurateur Ti Martin, of Commander’s Palace, chef John Besh and other culinary and hospitality industry leaders — has agreed to pay $6.2 million for the 93,649-square-foot building at Howard Avenue and Carondelet Street.
The deal is expected to close in 60 days, following a period of due diligence, according to Corporate Realty, the agent for the building. It has been approved by the state and the city, which loaned the previous project money.
The $25 million ArtWorks project, conceived by the Arts Council of New Orleans, was designed to give artists a space to work and to put the artists themselves on public display as they created. It received financial backing from the city and state as well as private investors, but the project was in debt almost from the time it opened in 2004. Meanwhile, it never gained much traction among artists or visitors and quickly was labeled a boondoggle. The five-story building has been unoccupied since 2011.
The city spends $600,000 a year paying the principal on a $7 million 2002 loan from the Department of Housing and Development for the ArtWorks project. The building’s owner, the Louisiana Artist Guild, owes the city more than $10 million, a city spokesman said. The state has $8.5 million to $12 million tied up in the building, said Bill Hines, an attorney with Jones Walker who helped to find a buyer for the building.
The Louisiana Artist Guild, created in the mid-1990s to construct and manage the ArtWorks property, put the building up for sale in the summer. The agency, which was separate from but affiliated with the Arts Council of New Orleans, had not been in operation since the building closed three years ago. But a board was assembled last year for the express purpose of reviewing bids and selecting a buyer for the property. The board, led by Hines, began reviewing applications in December.
The culinary school beat out proposals from a business incubator called Launch Pad and the Louisiana Civil Rights Museum, which has long been searching for a home.
Hines said the board considered all three projects to be qualified.
“It isn’t like one of these projects blew the other two away,” Hines said. “The truth is if any one of them had been the only bidder they would have won. We wouldn’t have said they were nonresponsive.”
In the end, Hines said, the culinary institute was the best fit because it best met the board’s informal, four-pronged test: It has a “public purpose,” which was required to get the state to sign off on the deal. The city was happy with the proposed purchase price. Meanwhile, the board was satisfied with the institute’s ability to execute and was convinced that it would have both the money and the business plan to carry the project through to completion, Hines said.
The culinary institute will partner with Delgado Community College to operate the culinary and hospitality school. The Legislature has given Delgado permission to issue $9 million in bonds to construct a hospitality and culinary center. Delgado also intends to enter into agreements with Tulane University and the University of New Orleans to offer courses at the site. The school is expected to open in early 2016.
New Orleans, LA – InterContinental New Orleans is undergoing a $26 million renovation, the first major work performed at the hotel property since its opening in 1984. Work is expected to be completed by early fall
According to InterContinental New Orleans General Manager John Romano, the renovation is the most important investment made to date in New Orleans by the hotel’s new ownership. Romano said, “The renovation demonstrates the ownership’s commitment to deliver high quality, dependable service. And, we intend to continue to look at trends and innovations in facilities improvement that competitively position InterContinental New Orleans in the market and better serve New Orleans and the industry that drives the economy of the city, the state and the region.”
The new ownership team is Southwest Value Partners, a San Diego real estate investment firm and Dimension Development, a hotel management company based in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The hotel has retained the InterContinental Hotels brand. In January 2013, the property was sold by its original owners, Pan-American Life Insurance Company and InterContinental Hotels Group.
The sense of arrival to the InterContinental New Orleans is the most immediately recognizable element of the renovation. The new, dramatic and expansive entrance lobby is the design centerpiece of the renovation. The transformation of the hotel’s 1st level entrance into a new spacious lobby begins with the removal of the 1st level escalators.
- 1st level entrance dramatically transformed
- New 1st level expansive, comfortable lobby with front desk and concierge area
- New and renovated spaces accommodate a lounge and a signature restaurant, adjoining the open 1st level lobby
- New 2nd level state-of-the-art meeting spaces
- 12,000 square feet of meeting space
- Rebuilt hotel infrastructure including, heating and cooling systems and laundry operations
- 479 completely renovated guestrooms
Simultaneous with the hotel’s renovations, preparations are underway for the National Basketball Association All Star Game and InterContinental New Orleans’ annual signature Mardi Gras celebration, among other high-profile hotel activities and events.
“We are open for business. Plans are in place to ensure that renovations will have minimal impact on hotel guests. This year with Mardi Gras coming later on the calendar followed closely by the French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest, we are expecting a very busy spring. By fall our guestrooms and meeting spaces will be completed and the hotel’s lounge and signature restaurant will be open for guests and locals to enjoy,” said Romano.
- During renovations, the portico vehicle entrance and exit facing St. Charles Avenue is unchanged.
- During renovations, guests will enter and exit the building at the hotel’s atrium. The atrium entrance is located to the right of the hotel’s portico.
- Guestroom renovations will be conducted floor by floor. While work is in progress on a designated floor, the floor will be closed to hotel guests.
- Hotel room service and catering operations are unchanged
- Veranda restaurant breakfast, lunch and dinner service is unchanged.
- InterContinental New Orleans will play its traditional role as host to Rex – the King of Carnival and the Rex organization on Mardi Gras Day.
· InterContinental New Orleans Mardi Gras public viewing stands are under construction and an announcement will be made in the near future about parade tickets and buffet packages
NEW ORLEANS, LA. (Feb. 4, 2014) – Omni Royal Orleans has announced the appointment of Dennis Pearse as general manager. A 20-year veteran of the hotel industry who has spent much of his career in New Orleans, La., Pearse will oversee all operations at the historic French Quarter address, including but not limited to, sales and marketing, dining operations and assuring a Four Diamond-worthy hospitality experience for guests.