Officials Seek Developer for Abandoned Six Flags

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — City officials in New Orleans are searching for a developer to revitalize the site of a former Six Flags amusement park that was left abandoned after Hurricane Katrina.

Many prior attempts to get the New Orleans east site off the ground have all fallen through but Jeff Schwartz, the city’s director of economic development, said Monday that officials are still determined to restore the area, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.

“There’s a lot of water under the bridge so we want this to be the last time we have to do a solicitation for this site,” he said during a virtual meeting.

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The city’s current request for qualifications gives developers until Feb. 9, 2021, to submit their ideas. A short list of developers will then be asked to submit a full proposal for the 162-acre (65-hectare) abandoned park area and nearby 65-acre (26-hectare) site close to the Bayou Sauvage.

Officials are aiming to choose a developer by the end of June, Schwartz said.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stick to that with no more delays,” he said.

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The amusement park on the city’s eastern edge is perhaps the most high-profile, lingering and ghostly reminder of Katrina’s devastation in 2005.

There has been a difference between the kind of redevelopment residents want versus projects that would have a major economic impact, said a 2019 report by the New Orleans Business Alliance, the city’s economic development agency. Residents wanted education and tourism focused projects, but the report said transportation and distribution companies would be the most beneficial.

Schwartz said Monday that people’s priorities have changed amid the economic devastation left by the coronavirus pandemic. “We know we need this site to come back as a key publicly-owned asset as a way of driving the economy of the future,” he said.

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The city will offer incentives for a project that “creates jobs in industries where we know there will be opportunities for growth that pay higher wages, and for wealth creation, particularly for Black and Brown entrepreneurs in the city,” he added.

The theme park originally opened as Jazzland Theme Park in 2000 but it went bankrupt in two seasons. Six Flags took over the lease, but then Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005, submerging the park and much of the city. The theme park never reopened. Control of the property subsequently went to the Industrial Development Board of the City of New Orleans.

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