The New Orleans Advocate: Move Faster On New Hotel

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With a dramatic modernist tower sitting vacant in the middle of town and with more than a thousand construction jobs on hold, the city of New Orleans was right to insist on a searching review of proposals for redeveloping the World Trade Center.

It is a misfortune for the city’s workers and the tourism trade that the lowest-ranked contestant for the project, amid numerous high-quality proposals considered, is holding up jobs and progress with a legal challenge.

Had this been a case of a point or two in the ratings, maybe we would be less impatient with the delay. But the winning project to bring the Four Seasons hotel and condominiums to the city won far more points in the ratings closely considered by a panel of city officials and experts.

The Four Seasons proposal won by a mile.

It’s a $365 million project that includes not only rehabilitation of the main structure but additional buildings and parklike amenities in the area.

The project sits in the heart of the city; we believe the city was right to seek to get the best deal in terms of economic impact.

The Four Seasons proposal, according to city consultants’ evaluation, would produce the largest amount of taxes for the city and would have “higher economic multipliers” than the other projects because it would increase property values and bring luxury travelers to New Orleans.

The hotel also would employ more people because of its premium service requirements, the consultants said.

The tourism industry will like the addition of a Four Seasons flag to the city’s glittery array of high-end hoteliers.

The estimated 1,600 construction jobs and the permanent jobs in the facility, not to mention healthy property tax payments from owners of the condominiums, are best to get moving right away.

One of the losing competitors sued in District Court over the process, but we have seen little to suggest any kind of chicanery in this proposal.

A challenge dragging on, though, can only hurt the equity partners’ financing plans; an October trial date is months away, long after the project — and the jobs — were to have been underway.

We hope this stalling will end soon and that the city will see a new life for the iconic 1968 building.

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