River District Developers Can Begin Infrastructure Work

NEW ORLEANS – From the the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority:

On Sept. 27, the commissioners of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (“the Authority”) approved a measure authorizing River District Neighborhood Investors, LLC (RDNI) to begin the infrastructure work necessary to build a new mixed-use development adjacent to the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

In October 2022, the Authority formally approved terms of the master development agreement, allowing RDNI to proceed as master developer for the neighborhood. The project has been hailed as a generational opportunity to activate undeveloped urban riverfront land as a transformative asset for the New Orleans region and the state of Louisiana.

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Since then, RDNI partners have been surveying the land, conducting impact studies and assessing community needs and feedback.

“We are delighted to announce that after rigorous due diligence, planning and predevelopment work, our new neighborhood is getting off the ground,” said Louis Lauricella, co-managing member of RDNI. “We are ready to begin construction on this one-of-a-kind opportunity to work, play and stay along the Mississippi River. The River District promises a ‘new’ New Orleans neighborhood – one that is sustainable and integrated with the surrounding area.”

The neighborhood, parts of which are slated to open as soon as January 2025, will feature entertainment, greenspaces, retail, offices and a range of residential options, including affordable housing and workforce housing. In September, Shell’s Gulf of Mexico operations announced it will anchor the District’s commercial office space with the first Class-A office building to be constructed in the city since 1989, and earlier this year, Topgolf announced its involvement in the development.

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“We are excited to finally hit the ground running on this exciting new neighborhood,” said Jerry Reyes, president of the Ernest N. Morial Exhibition Hall Authority. “This development is going to be foundational in positively changing the quality of life for people in our city, and we are ready to go.”

The River District is expected to generate $43 million of new annual net tax revenues, more than $1 billion of annual economic activity, a projected 9,000 construction jobs and nearly 6,000 projected permanent jobs for the entire development.

RDNI has made a commitment to build a total of 900 residential units, 450 of which will be affordable and workforce housing units in the development, allowing hospitality and entertainment industry employees and those in other industries to live near the places they work.

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As part of the project, RDNI has pledged to engage at least 30% participation of small and emerging businesses (SEB) and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) in all facets of the project, including development, construction, design, professional services and goods/services.

“The RDNI/NOENMCC endeavor is a partnership committed to the progression, growth and empowerment of highly effective small businesses, especially disadvantaged ones. By its very inception, the RDNI founders created a rarely seen collaboration that is a model for equitable economic development in this city and beyond. The respect for intentionality in the alliance between this public and private entity is a prototype I hope to see replicated by other developers in the future.” said Iam Christian Tucker, president, CEO and owner of ILSI Engineering, a minority, woman-owned engineering firm based in New Orleans.

ILSI engineering has been providing civil engineering and stormwater management planning for the project.

Contractors will start work on the property, outfitting the site with roads, water and sewer services, internet and electricity needs and other infrastructure improvements. A formal groundbreaking ceremony will take place later this year.

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