Saturday, January 31, 2015

Kenner searching for new lakefront attraction developer

The city of Kenner is one step closer to having its own lakefront attraction. This month, city officials began a nationwide search to find a developer that can turn the city's ambitious plans into a reality.

At the Laketown redevelopment site, the Treasure Chest Casino sits alone at the small marina, but Mayor Mike Yenni is ready to make it the anchor of a major lakeshore destination. City officials say the opportunities are endless.

"It is very open ended. We're thinking for sure some restaurants, some type of night life," says Mike Quigley, the city's chief administration officer. "Maybe retail related to the waterfront."
In artist renderings, the city shows all the possibilities: from a Ferris wheel and family-friendly recreational areas, to restaurants, retails shops, hotels and boardwalks that overlook the water.

Now the city has started the search for a developer ready to deliver something spectacular for the roughly 15-acre site.

"It will be our option to select the one that works best for Kenner," Quigley said. "We're looking forward to what the proposals are."

Not only have several local developers been interested in the project, but Quigley said the city is also accepting proposals from developers from all over the country.

"We have been very proactive. We've gone out to perspective developers," Quigley said. "So, we have a list of about 53 developers that we've sent it [the request for proposal] to."

Michael Hecht, the president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., said he expects this project to generate a lot of interest nationwide, just like the booming market in New Orleans.

"People that are local have a better understanding of the opportunity, but at this point New Orleans is a national investment opportunity," Hecht said.

Hecht said it has a lot to do with big retailers and businesses flocking to the entire metro area.

"It validates the market and it makes it easier for us to get the next retailer, the next hotel," Hecht said. "So, we have become an international market and interestingly this is really a post-Katrina phenomenon."

The deadline for developers to submit their proposals for the project is May 8 and the city expects to break ground as soon as 2016.


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