City, Port of New Orleans deal will bring three miles of riverfront access to residents, tourists

June 8, 2017 | Updated: 3:19 p.m., June 8, 2017

Photo of the Governor Nicholls wharf from across the river

NEW ORLEANS — A deal between the City and the Port of New Orleans will bring “spectacular” new riverfront access to the French Quarter.

The city announced that the Port of New Orleans, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad and the city have agreed to preliminary terms of a plan to align the Public Belt Railroads and its assets under the Port of New Orleans. The Public Belt will continue to effectively serve the Port of New Orleans and can proceed with plans to invest and grow. The move is expected to give the Port greater competitive advantage in international trade.

The plan also calls for the port to transfer the Governor Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue Wharves along the Mississippi River to the City of New Orleans. This will provide contiguous public access to the riverfront from Crescent Park to Spanish Plaza — a three-mile stretch of riverfront sights and sounds.

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This improved public access comes several years after the opening of the 1.4 mile, 20-acre linear Crescent Park.

The Port Board of Commissioners and the New Orleans Public Belt Commission will hold special meetings to consider the framework on Friday, June 9 and Monday, June 12, respectively.

“This is a win-win-win for all involved. Our guiding principle from the outset of this process has been to do what is in the best interest of the citizens of New Orleans,” Landrieu said. “It is clear that the Public Belt Railroad is a critical element of the Port’s competitive advantage, which means it is critical for the future growth potential in trade and commerce and the long-term economic success of the City. Improving our port’s competitive advantage will mean more good-paying jobs for our residents. Also vitally important is our ability to open up our special riverfront to the public.”

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Other elements of the innovative plan include:

  • The Port will relocate the existing tenant at the Governor Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue Wharves to a location that recognizes and supports their business needs and is suited for their projected long-term growth.
  • The Port will recognize the rights of the employees of the Public Belt system under existing contracts and applicable law.
  • The Port will work with various hospitality partners to facilitate efforts to secure up to $15 million to convert the wharves into public park spaces. Some public access to the riverfront is expected to be  provided in 2018.
  • The City, Port and Public Belt will also be working together for any legal and regulatory approvals necessary to finalize the transfer of assets.