NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— A year ago the city of New Orleans selected the “Bayou Phoenix” group to redevelop the old Six Flags site but New Orleans East residents and the developer are questioning when the project will begin.
“It is a jewel that can service the entire city, not just New Orleans East but the state, and we’re looking for equity. Equitable development in our community”, said Tangee Walls of the New Orleans East Matters Coalition.
Walls explains the importance of the old Six Flags site and what its redevelopment would mean to the area. She was leading a group of volunteers at Joe Brown Park Thursday (Oct. 13) in a beautification project in the proud neighborhood. However, what’s on the minds of many, is what’s taking so long to begin work on the site.
“It makes us feel forgotten, it makes us feel misrepresented because we have a strong desire to revitalize our community, revitalize our economy, and help rebuild New Orleans East,” said Anthony Jackson Jr. of Fight Blight NOLA.
Developer Troy Henry’s Bayou Phoenix Project was chosen to develop the site a year ago, and he says that delays at city hall have slowed the project.
“My personal opinion is what took them 8 months should have taken 8 days to do. You pick an agency or you pick an organization and you move forward. When you did the RFP you had somebody in mind,” said Henry.
To execute a lease and negotiate the development agreement the city chose the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, but the agency, Henry says, is asking for shared control of the project, which is a non-starter for them.
“NORA has been asking for approval authority on every one of our tenants, all of the financial transactions, all of the contractors, and that forces us to move at the speed of government as opposed to the speed of business,” said Troy Henry.
To do so would put the deal in jeopardy.
“We’re not going to do a deal where we have one hand on the steering wheel and they have one hand on the steering wheel and we’re trying to drive down the road together,” said Henry.
They have welcomed and expected conventional oversight by the government agency, according to Henry, but not overreach. New Orleans East residents are frustrated and want to see the project move forward.
“17 years is too much time. I think we’ve served our time well. I think it is our time right now” said Tangee Walls.