Upon the governor’s signature, legislation was adopted giving final approval on the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Corridor revitalization in New Orleans.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed House Bill 788, giving the green light to the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority to execute bold plans for the Convention Center District Development project to revitalize the convention center corridor from Poydras Street to the Market Street power plant along the city’s riverfront.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Walter Leger, is designed to allow the authority, which operates the New Orleans Convention Center, to move forward with a comprehensive plan to revitalize an important part of the city through new development on a 47-acre land tract, and to make significant visual and functional improvements to the area around Convention Center Boulevard.
“This is a historic moment for the city and state,” said Melvin Rodriguez, authority chair. “This action by the Governor allows us to take aggressive steps to develop a long underutilized part of the city’s riverfront and to make the kind of improvements in our hospitality and entertainment offerings that will ensure the city will continue to stay competitive as a visitor destination of choice for millions of people.
President and CEO of the Convention Center Bob Johnson noted that new investment and a reimaging of the area is timely.
“With the exception of our $50 million construction of the Center’s Great Hall, and the recent re-opening of the Riverwalk, there hasn’t been any large scale investment or development along the corridor since the 1984 World’s Fair,” Johnson said. “The time is now to seize this landmark opportunity, and to give visitors and locals new options for enjoying and exploring our city.”
The Convention Center Authority, which led the efforts to expand the center in 1991 and 1999, has been studying options for redeveloping and improving the area since 2012. A variety of studies have been undertaken to assess possible changes in traffic patterns to reduce congestion and improve public safety, and analyze current and future retail, housing and hotel needs.
Central to the plans is the construction of a new headquarters hotel on the upriver side of the convention center, needed to accommodate the current demands from meetings and conventions and the projected increase in visitors to the city leading up to its 300th anniversary.
Other proposed aspects of the Convention Center District Development Project include a linear park along Convention Center Boulevard, outdoor entertainment, arts and cultural venues and new retail and housing options. An added benefit of the project is its ability to provide a relief valve for the already stressed tourism infrastructure in the French Quarter and along Magazine Street and the Marigny/Frenchman Street areas.