POSTED: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 1:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 1:04pm
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WDSU) — A forum scheduled for Monday evening will provide neighbors in New Orleans East an opportunity to learn about -- and debate -- a proposal that would bring an upscale outlet mall to the former Six Flags property.
The meetng is set for 6 p.m. at the Household of Faith church, located at 9300 I-10 Service Road.
Backers of the proposed mall will detail their vision for the swath of land that has sat dormant since Hurricane Katrina shut down the theme park more than six years ago. Dallas-based Provident Realty Advisors and DAG Development have partnered to seek city approval for the project.
Last month, officials narrowed a list of applicants to one bid -- that of the outlet mall. They did not, however, give formal approval to Provident and DAG. That could come as early as Tuesday.
But first, those living in the area will hear about the vision for the project, which is described as a high-end retail venue designed to attract both tourists and local residents. The mall would take advantage of infrastructure already in place as part of the closed Six Flags New Orleans, and plans call for a boardwalk-style entertainment zone alongside the retail shops.
Some rides could remain as part of the facitily, and future development options include sports fields on neighboring land.
Previous efforts to redevelop the property have failed. Among the most visible: a pitch to resurrect the theme park as a Nickelodeon-branded entertainment complex.
Officials with DAG Development told WDSU financing hurdles remain, but the involvement of a proven developer like Provident Realty Advisors, which has experience with similar projects, makes the proposal extremely viable. The group is likely to seek the designation of a TIF (tax increment financing) district to enhance that viability.
"I feel like I have seen enough from them to know that we are offering something the public will respond to," said Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff Judy Reese Morse, who is a member of the committee that must approve the application.
No brands have formally committed to the project, but David Garcia, with DAG Development, said interest is extremely high, and noted that New Orleans is one of the last major metropolitan areas without such a retail property. The nearest outlet malls are in Gonzales, La., and Gulfport, Miss., and the closest "upscale" outlet centers are in Houston and Destin, Fla.
The center would be named Jazzland Outlet mall -- an homage to the theme park's original "Jazzland" moniker (the name was later changed to Six Flags New Orleans).