Industrial Development Board launches selection process for development of former Six Flags park

January 15 2014 | Latest News

By Katherine Sayre, | The Times-Picayune

New Orleans' Industrial Development Board on Tuesday (Jan. 14) opened the 150-acre former Six Flags amusement park site in eastern New Orleans to proposals from developers, as city leaders prepare to select a new vision for the site."We're looking for it to be an asset for the community and for the city," said Alan Philipson, president of the board, which holds title to the city-owned land.

"Proposals could include a theme park or water park, a retail use, an office park, a film back lot, or any acceptable use," Philipson added.

The former amusement park site -- also once home to the Jazzland park -- was shuttered after Hurricane Katrina flooded it for weeks, although movie production crews have used the area for filming.

Last year, plans for building a 400,000-square-foot outlet mall on the land crumbled after a competing outlet mall development moved forward at the Riverwalk. Provident Realty Advisors and DAG Development, chosen in 2012 to develop the former Six Flags site, said the region's market couldn't support two outlet malls and walked away from the project.

This time around, a five-member selection committee will be made up of Philipson, IDB members Justin Augustine and Edith Jones, and two appointees from Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration. Those appointments were not announced on Tuesday.

Philipson said the selection process will be open to the public, and the committee will be looking for input from the community. Developers' plans must also include a commitment to disadvantaged businesses and other local participation, he said.

The deadline for the initial round of proposals is Feb. 28. Plans submitted by the deadline will be the first to be considered. But the board said it will continue to accept other proposals until a developer is selected, and the entity has no deadline to make a selection.

Rod Miller, New Orleans Business Alliance president and CEO, told the board Tuesday that it's an important time for development across the city, particularly in eastern New Orleans. Retailers, including Walmart and Big Lots, are moving in and a $130 million hospital is under construction, among other projects, he said.

"This is a different investment environment than it was when the initial (request for proposal) went out a couple of years ago," Miller said.

Miller said his group will be aggressively marketing the development opportunity through its worldwide network.

The board's attorney, David Wolf, said with the size of the land, multiple developers with separate projects that don't need the whole space could be chosen.

Two years ago, a selection committee considered two finalists to take control of the land -- the outlet mall and plans for a Crescent City Amusement Park. The committee rejected proposals for an adventure and water park, an electric power plant, and a combination theme park-resort and sound stage, among other plans.

According to the board's request for proposal, the committee will evaluate plans in a few key areas: developers' experience and past performance, finances including a market analysis and liquidity, potential tax revenue and job creation, commitment to involving disadvantaged business participation, and the overall development concept including sustainable building practices.