Land Swap Agreement Could Lead the Way to New City Hall

NEW ORLEANS — From the The New Orleans Building Corporation:

City leaders and the New Orleans Building Corporation have announced that the current site of Duncan Plaza is to be united and owned by the people of New Orleans under a historic land swap agreement with the State of Louisiana.

“After years of negotiations, I am proud to announce that the City of New Orleans has reached an agreement with the State of Louisiana for a property exchange that would place all of Duncan Plaza under the city’s control for the first time in decades,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Since I was first sworn in as mayor in 2018, my goal has been for the city to regain ownership of Duncan Plaza on behalf of the residents of New Orleans. I am grateful for all the partners at the local and state level that came to the table to make a fair deal, allowing the city to utilize this central location in the heart of downtown. This exchange presents exciting development opportunities that will benefit the city, residents and the business community for years to come.”

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Uniting the parcels under city ownership provides opportunities for new public uses including municipal facilities in partnership with the Civil District Court. Any decision to develop Duncan Plaza will involve public input and the approval of the New Orleans City Council.

The swap was authorized by state legislation passed in the 2023 Regular Legislative Session (ACT 313) and signed by Governor John Bel Edwards this summer. Following this authorization – the City of New Orleans, Civil District Court judges and the State of Louisiana continued negotiations through the summer.

Negotiated by the New Orleans Building Corporation, Civil District Court judges, the John Bel Edwards Administration and the New Orleans City Council, the agreement reached this past week transfers the balance of the property on Duncan Plaza to the City in exchange for the Civil District Court site and the surface parking lot behind current City Hall. The land swap is subject to the approval of the City Planning Commission and the New Orleans City Council. 

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“We would have never reached this agreement without the teamwork between Governor Edwards’ Administration, the Civil District Court judges, the Cantrell Administration, the NOBC and the City Council. This was truly a team effort and took everyone’s dedication to bring home,” said City Council Vice President Helena Moreno. “It has long been in the city’s interest to unite the divided Duncan Plaza site, and due to the complexity involved, many doubted it could ever be done. Yet, thanks to the cooperation and commitment of our partners, we can proudly announce this important site will be transferred to the people of New Orleans.”

“In order for this swap to work there needed to be an equal exchange. That has been accomplished,” said Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne. “The city is now positioned to address its needs and the state has frontage on Poydras and Loyola sufficient to address multiple potential uses.”

“This historic land swap is the culmination of extensive collaboration with Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, Mayor Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council, our partners at Civil District Court including Chief Judge Kern Reese and Building Committee Chairman Judge Omar Mason,” said NOBC CEO Cynthia Connick.

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“The agreement is a tremendous win for all parties and secures the whole of centrally located Duncan Plaza for future city use,” said NOBC Board Chair Tracie Boutte.

“I am proud to have carried the legislation that made this agreement possible,” said District 99 State Representative Candace Newell. “This deal is a win-win for the people of New Orleans and Louisiana alike.”

“This agreement has been a long time coming and I am proud to have played a role in getting it done,” said District 4 Senator Jimmy Harris. “I would like to commend the John Bel Edwards Administration, Mayor Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council and the Orleans Delegation for working together to reach a deal that will benefit everyone.”

“This agreement ensures that our city and state governments and Civil District Court all have room to grow right in the heart of our city,” said District 5 Senator Royce Duplessis. “This is a prime example of what city-state government collaboration should look like.”

A state office building and the former Supreme Court building occupied nearly half of Duncan Plaza for years, although both buildings have been demolished in the past two decades. Since those demolitions, the land directly across Perdido Street from the current City Hall has sat vacant but under state ownership.

Uniting the parcels under city ownership provides opportunities for new public uses, including municipal facilities in partnership with the Civil District Court. 

The New Orleans Building Corporation is a non-profit public benefit corporation created by the city of New Orleans. The mission is to provide for the enhancement, improvement, leasing and commercial development of publicly – owned real estate assets and to stimulate economic development in the city of New Orleans.

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