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City to pick developer for Six Flags site in New Orleans

City to pick developer for Six Flags site in New Orleans

POSTED: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 - 12:04pm

The City of New Orleans is poised to pick a developer as soon as Tuesday for the former Six Flags park site.

For the first time, residents had a chance to weigh in on the proposal at a public meeting inside Household of Faith Church on Monday.

Several hundred New Orleans East residents showed up hungry for economic development and the 2,000 jobs a development project like could bring.

They got a taste of what the Six Flags site could look like and question whether the team has the financing to make it happen.

New Orleanians came armed with questions for local developer, David Garcia and Texas-based Provident Realty Advisors.

The two presented a $60 million plan to turn the abandoned Six Flags site into the "Jazzland Outlet Mall." The proposal includes 400,000 square feet of upscale shopping, restaurants and an entertainment district that would eventually utilize some amusement park rides.

"We're very thankful and eager to get development in rural east New Orleans," said Robbie Knecht.

Dozens of retailers were mentioned in the proposal but some residents were skeptical.

Developers said no specifics can be outlined until their plan is approved.

Another question is financing. Provident Realty promises to front up to a $1 million for the pre-construction phase. The rest would be based on tax increment financing.

Developer David Garcia explained how it works.

"It actually leverages the future sales tax revenue that this project would create, so it doesn't take any limited city or state resources. It only leverages the new revenue that we'll create. And the outlet upscale mall model typically averages $350 to $500 a square foot. So for a 400,000 square foot project, it could generate $150 million to $200 million in new sales revenue for the city which translates into millions of dollars of new tax revenue," said Garcia.

Developers said it will draw people from the region, because nothing like it exists between Houston and Destin, but many wanted to focus locally.

The city wants to make a decision soon. But not so fast, said District E Councilman Jon Johnson.

"I don't want to come up with another Nickelodeon prospect. We need to take our time," Johnson said.

Even if this proposal is approved by the city now, developers said it would be 12 to 24 months before construction begins.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the developer selection committee will meet at City Hall. They could pick this developer or scrap the plan and start over.

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