Week in Review, Aug. 16-20: Four Seasons, Virgin Hotels Now Open

NEW ORLEANS – Here are the week’s top business stories:

Hotels Debut

Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences New Orleans is now open in the former headquarters of the World Trade Center building at the foot of Canal Street. In 2018, the hotelier began an approximately $450 million renovation of the circa 1968 structure, designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, in partnership with developers Carpenter & Company Inc. and Woodward Interests. “New Orleans is a destination that has long been on our wish list,” says Christian Clerc, Four Seasons president of global operations, in a press release. “We could not be more excited to introduce Four Seasons to this incredible community, and to share an authentic and memorable New Orleans experience with guests from near and far. The transformation of this truly iconic building is stunning, and serves as a wonderful addition to Four Seasons portfolio of exceptional properties.”

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Virgin Hotels New Orleans opened for business on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 550 Baronne Street in the Warehouse District. The new hotel features 238 rooms and multiple dining and drinking outlets, including Commons Club, Dreamboat, the Pool Club and Funny Library Coffee Shop. “Each of our hotels embrace the local flavor of the cities they are in, and Virgin Hotels New Orleans is certainly a fun one,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and recent space traveler, in a press release. “The city’s welcoming spirit, exciting entertainment and incredible culinary scene are all things we are excited to bring to life through our hotel.” The hotel’s “chambers” range in size from 294 square feet to 1,097 square feet. The fanciest is “Richard’s Penthouse Flat,” which features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking downtown New Orleans.

Expansions at Children’s Hospital and Delgado

Children’s Hospital New Orleans has announced the opening of its expanded emergency department, which is double the size of its predecessor. Part of the hospital’s ongoing $300 million transformation, the new 32,000-square-foot space features fast track and rapid assessment rooms, dedicated trauma bays, and a private behavioral health pod. Growing from 29 to 46 emergency rooms, the new emergency department expands the capacity of a hospital that already cares for more than 50,000 pediatric patients per year. “Children’s Hospital New Orleans is in an unprecedented period of growth, and this is another example of us coming together to deliver the resources needed for the families in our community,” said John Nickens, Children’s Hospital president and CEO, in a press release.

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Entergy’s Energy Smart Program Brings Cost Conscious Innovation to New Orleans

Offering comprehensive energy efficiency at no cost to the consumer, Entergy’s Energy Smart program incentivizes Entergy New Orleans customers to perform energy-saving upgrades in...

On Aug. 16, Delgado Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib was joined by local officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a new $9.3 million Advanced Technology Center at the Delgado Community College West Bank Campus in Algiers. The Delgado West Bank Campus Advanced Technology Center represents a significant expansion of the 15-acre footprint of the West Bank Campus. The center will house all academic STEM programs including classrooms, laboratories and faculty offices. It also includes an open common space and meeting spaces. The 32,000-square-foot facility is located at the corner of Shirley Drive and Constellation Street, on land acquired by Delgado from the Algiers Development District. The ADD is redeveloping Federal City, the site of the former Navy base in Algiers that is adjacent to the Delgado campus. 

Another Fest Cancelled

The 2021 Beignet Fest planned for Saturday, Sept. 25 at New Orleans City Park has been cancelled due to the current surge of COVID-19. Sherwood Collins, founder and executive director of Beignet Fest and the Tres Doux Foundation, released the following statement: “The mission of the Tres Doux Foundation is to celebrate, embrace and enhance the lives of children with developmental delays and disabilities by presenting them as whole beings, and to support organizations that do the same. As such, we are dedicated to the health and safety of children of all abilities, and we feel it is best to cancel the 2021 Beignet Fest. We look forward to returning in 2022.

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Mask Battle

Louisiana’s top school board abruptly ended a chaotic meeting Wednesday without debating whether to challenge Gov. Bel Edwards’ mask mandate for schools, after a raucous crowd of angry parents packed the hearing room and refused to put on face coverings. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s meeting disintegrated into shouting of “no more masks” as a majority of the hundreds of people in attendance objected when told they must mask up to comply with Edwards’ order, which includes state buildings. (From the AP)

Environmental Concerns

A civilian Pentagon official ordered the Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday to conduct a full environmental assessment of a $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics complex planned in Louisiana, drawing praise from environmentalists. Jaime Pinkham, the Army’s acting assistant secretary for civil works, ordered the review after a virtual meeting with opponents of a Corps wetlands permit that allowed Formosa Plastics Group member FG LA LLC to build 10 chemical plants and four other major facilities on the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. (AP)

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