City Council to Weigh in on Convention Center Hotel Project

Virus Outbreak Louisiana
Journalists wearing personal protective equipment, including gloves and masks, assemble for a tour of a temporary hospital that has been set up in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, as overflow for local hospitals that are reaching capacity, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in New Orleans, Saturday, April 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS – The COVID-19 crisis has brought new attention to the debate about a proposed development at the Morial Convention Center. The New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, which oversees the convention center, got state approval last year to build a 1,200-room hotel at the upriver end of the facility. The Authority wants to invest more than $1 billion (half of which would be paid by taxpayers) in improvements to help attract more meetings and events to the city, but skeptics say that similar projects in other cities haven’t paid off. 

At its last board meeting in April, the authority paused its consideration of both the proposed hotel and future development of an upriver parcel while the Convention Center focused on the state’s efforts to combat COVID-19. Now the New Orleans City Council is planning to consider a resolution that encourages the Authority to reconsider its plans for the project.

“I appreciate the City Council’s support of our decision to pause the upriver developments, and its commitment to working together to rebuild our hospitality economy,” said Exhibition Hall Authority Chair Walt Leger III. “The Convention Center exists to support the people of Louisiana and New Orleans by creating jobs, generating taxes and stimulating economic development. Stimulating the economic activity necessary to support our workforce and create demand for hospitality jobs at businesses across our region is a critical function. Whether it’s through emergency response activities like serving as an interim medical facility, hosting future events, or generating new investment and economic activity through an upriver development of vacant land, we’re committed to engaging City leaders to create the greatest impact possible.”

The Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, meanwhile, is speaking out in opposition to the project.

“GNOHA is also in support of the council’s resolution to formally oppose the Exhibition Hall Authority’s proposed hotel and to suspend all further development,” the group said in a statement.Our city should be focused on finding funding people who are out of work, not subsidizing public development.”


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