Local Developers Plan to Convert Site Near Audubon’s ‘Fly’ into Riverfront Park

NEW ORLEANS – Ben Jacobson and Casey Burka have announced the purchase of the Bisso Marine salvage yard located at the foot of Walnut Street just upriver from Audubon Park. They said they plan to invest tens of millions of dollars of private capital with bank financing to convert the former marine industrial property, purchased from Bisso Marine for an undisclosed sum, into a mixed-use riverfront park called The Batture.

Jacobson and Burka, New Orleans natives and Uptown residents, said they have spent more than five years working to purchase the roughly 10-acre property, which is zoned for maritime industrial uses.

“For the past 170 years, the neighborhood has not had access to this land,” Jacobson said in a press release. “We want to open it up to the community – to bring it to life. We envision a space where families can get together, enjoy the river, let the kids run around on the great lawn and have a bite and a drink from some of the best local chefs and restaurants New Orleans has to offer.”

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The Batture project is located on the river side of the levee along Leake Avenue, between Walnut and Lowerline streets. Jacobson and Burka hope to transform the industrial site into an “oasis” that integrates the energy of a mixed-use corridor with the ambiance of a riverfront park. They envision something akin to the Audubon Institute’s Audubon Riverfront Park (better known as “the Fly”) — which is just downriver — but with food and beverage sales and other mixed-use elements.

The developers said that, more than a century ago, the Bisso family envisioned hosting neighborhood dances and picnics on the site, which was just across the levee from a family-owned grocery store at the foot of Walnut Street. Instead, the tract became home to later generations’ marine services businesses.

The Burkas plan to continue discussions with neighbors, civic leaders, business owners and elected officials to “ensure the project’s success and its positive impact on the community.” They said additional partners will be announced soon. They estimate the project will be complete in 2026.

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Jacobson and Burka’s development company is Federated Historic Holdings.

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