Four Seasons picked to develop former World Trade Center Tower

Posted on: March 24 2015

Advocate story

Carpenter & Company and Woodward LLC, which has proposed turning the vacant World Trade Center building at the foot of Canal Street into a Four Seasons hotel, was selected Tuesday to begin negotiating a lease with the city for the redevelopment of the vacant and bedraggled but exceptionally well-located 1960s office building.

The proposal beat out four other development teams, all of which had proposed some combination of hotel and residences for the site.

The Four Seasons proposal calls for the building to be converted into a 350-room Four Seasons hotel with 76 hotel-serviced residences.

The developer will be presented for approval by the New Orleans Building Corp. board at its next meeting on March 31. A proposed lease will be finalized and submitted to City Council at its April 9 meeting. The city and developer are expected to sign a lease agreement by May 7.

The developer will then have 60 days to close financing on the deal and another 15 days -- for a total of 75 -- to decide if it is necessary to renegotiate or terminate the lease.

The city received 10 responses last year to a “request for qualifications” from those seeking to turn the vacant 33-story office building at the foot of Canal Street, built in the 1960s, into a “first-class commercial and/or mixed-use project.”

The riverfront property at 2 Canal St. is widely considered to be one of the most valuable sites in New Orleans, but the city has struggled for years to find someone to redevelop the old building, with repeated efforts coming to naught.

The five finalists delivered formal presentations to the selection committee late last month and submitted their “best and final” offers last week.

Tuesday’s decision was made by a five-member panel comprised of Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin; Cindy Connick, executive director of the Canal Street Development Corp.; Bill Gilchrist, the city’s director of place-based planning; City Planning Commission Executive Director Bob Rivers; and Ashleigh Gardere, executive director of the city’s Network for Economic Opportunity.

Before making its decision, the committee heard reports from its lawyer Scott Whittaker, real estate specialist Greg Hartmann and director of the Office of Supplier Diversity Arkebia Matthews.

The proposals were evaluated on overall quality, 10 points; project characterists including construction and management, 15 points; quality of financing plan and financial resources, 20 points; terms of the proposed lease agreement, 20 points; benefits to the city, 25 points; and DBE participation, 10 points.

According to the panel’s consultants, fixed rent payments in net present value from the teams would have amounted to $102.6 million from Conrad; $58.4 million from Four Seasons; $87.3 million from HRI; $103.1 million from Godfrey; and $94.8 million from the Hotel Alessandra.

The panel did not make public comments after the selection was announced. It also did not reveal the order of the proposals.