Tipitina's Owner Plans $12M Lakefront Festival Park

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The owner of one of New Orleans' best-known music bars has agreed to spend at least $12 million to turn a vacant riverboat casino dock into an outdoor music venue and high-end retail center.

         The planned Tipitina's development on 4.5 acres of vacant lakefront in eastern New Orleans would expand the brand created in 1977.

         Tipitina's was established as a "neighborhood juke joint" to provide a place to perform for Henry Roeland Byrd, better known as pianist Professor Longhair, according to the website for the bar and associated charitable foundation.

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         A group headed by Tipitina's owner Roland von Kurnatowski signed an agreement recently with an Orleans Parish agency, NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune’s Robert McClendon reported.

         Studio Network-Lakefront LLC first pitched the idea in January to the Orleans Parish Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority.

         Since then, two water park features were replaced in the plans with more bars, restaurants, and a possible nightclub.

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         The agreement sets up a 50-year lease between the authority and developers, which want to create a festival park as anchor for bars, restaurants, shops and a nightclub. There's an option to extend the lease another 49 years.

         Studio Network-Lakefront could pull out if it doesn't have zoning permits and other government approvals by the end of 2016, but it would forfeit a portion of the $65,000 due over the agreement's first 18 months.

         In exchange for development rights, the company would pay a flat monthly fee, plus 1.15 percent of gross revenues generated from the property once operations begin.

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         The management authority asked last year for proposals to redevelop the property, which was left abandoned after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The only proposal was from Studio Network-Lakefront.

         Kurnatowski agrees to spend at least $6 million to renovate the abandoned South Shore Harbor Terminal, add a fuel dock and convenience store for the neighboring marina, build an amphitheater and open space for a restaurant.

         A second phase, to be completed within five years, calls for an additional $7 million to add live music, a nightclub, recording studio, shops and additional bar and restaurant space.

         A possible phase three could include an "educational facility," museum or, if the management authority agrees to them, other features not yet proposed.

         For more information




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