Coming Soon to a Street Near You

Four developments under construction worth getting excited over
Charity Hospital

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) In November 2021, Tulane University announced plans to sign a long-term lease on the 350,000-square-foot building that formerly served as Charity Hospital.

Despite all of last year’s challenges, the pandemic didn’t managed not to rain on the parade of construction projects in the region. The Convention Center’s Linear Park, the Thibodeaux Regional Health System, and the Hotel St. Vincent are but a few of the undertakings that were completed in 2021.

So, what’s next? Plenty. The momentum behind the boom in development doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, and it isn’t limited to just one or two industries.

DID YOU KNOW? While working on Clearview City Center, last June The Richards Collection — led by CEO Thomas Richards — launched another shopping experience, The Shops at 1200 West in Mandeville.

Caesars Set to Add More Entertainment Options
In the world of hospitality and entertainment, last year Harrah’s New Orleans broke ground to transform its award-winning property into Caesars New Orleans. It’s part of a whopping $325 million renovation and construction project that’s scheduled to be completed by 2024 and includes an all-new 340-room hotel tower above the existing casino’s valet porte cochère, new culinary and hospitality offerings within the casino, and full exterior and interior architectural and design enhancements.
Additionally, Caesars New Orleans is bringing in the world-renowned Nobu Hospitality brand, known for its signature blend of modern, cool luxury and minimalist Japanese tradition. That means we can look forward to a Nobu hotel and restaurant in the near future.
But they aren’t stopping there. Caesars is also partnering with Spiegelworld, the Las Vegas-based entertainment trailblazer, which will create an all-new live entertainment experience on the second floor of the existing casino. Among its featured promotions is “Absinthe,” an adult circus-comedy show billed as a “fantastical blend of carnival and spectacle.”

The Convention Center Aims to Compete
Before the pandemic, New Orleans was a hotspot for events, conferences and conventions, and to stay competitive, the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center launched a $557 million five-year plan designed to completely overhaul the facility, which was built in 1985, and update it for more modern needs. Despite a yearlong halt in 2020, the plan continues to move forward.
“Immediate work includes $40 million to replace the aging roof on the 40-acre building, and upwards of $5 million to overhaul the technology,” said Michael Sawaya, president and general manager of convention center.
Additional plans include design and renovation of the 140 meeting rooms and adding a multi-purpose room that comes with sweeping views of the Mississippi River.

“As the tourism economy is ramping up to recover from the pandemic, reimagining our convention center, the sixth largest in the country, is key and critical to our competitiveness in the future,” said Sawaya.

While some work has been completed, there remains an estimated $300 million more to be done. It’s estimated that the annual economic impact from activity at the convention center produces around $2 billion for the local economy.

More than a Mall — Clearview City Center
But visitors can’t just gamble, stay in their hotel, or mingle in convention centers all day long, no matter how wild or extravagant the entertainment is. They also need places to shop and explore, such as Clearview City Center, a new live-work-play concept being developed at what was formeraly called Clearview Mall.
The mixed-use development will ultimately feature more than 1 million square feet of residential, office, retail, grocery, hotel and entertainment space. Over $100 million is being invested to spur buy-in and participation from major transformative users and prospective tenants.
“There is no concept like this in the region,” said Thomas Richards, Clearview City Center managing member. “It will significantly improve quality of life for those who live, work and play in Greater New Orleans.”
Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO Inc) recently conducted an economic impact analysis for the redevelopment that reported the project will create 1,608 total jobs and $123 million in economic impact during construction alone. By the summer of 2023, when all phases of the project are expected to be complete, the development is estimated to support 420 total jobs and deliver $26 million in annual economic impact.
The project was originally announced in December 2019, which would seem like terrible and unfortunate timing. But Richards said there were some surprising benefits to it.
“The pandemic actually fast-tracked what we knew and saw several years ago in the movement away from traditional shopping malls that rely on heavy foot traffic coming to a place specifically to shop,” he said. “The fact that we were able to get out ahead of this trend has meant all the world to our project and development, where we are years ahead of where other shopping malls around the country are attempting to go.”
Richards, whose family has owned and operated the facility since 1968, said he has no intention to be part of the trend he’s seeing with large retail management companies coming in and acquiring local malls, extracting value from them and turning them into a piece of real estate whose owners are thousands of miles away.
“We are heavily focused on local impact,” he said, “recognizing how integral this project will be, and already is, in driving our regional economy and place our family continues to call home.”

Tulane Makes a Move to Charity Hospital
In November 2021, Tulane University announced plans to sign a long-term lease and occupy the 350,000-square-foot building that formerly served as Charity Hospital. The move is part of the university’s plan to expand its downtown campus as it continues to develop its work in the field of biomedical research.
“I view this as a magical moment for the city,” said Tulane President Michael Fitts. “Research has been exploding at Tulane. We’ve had it go up about 50% in the last four or five years and we expect it to go up another 50%. We’re in the middle of a biomedical revolution right now.”
Fitts said the choice to move to this well-known city landmark was also influenced by the university’s desire to conduct its research in a place where it’ll benefit the city. Choosing Charity Hospital places the university smack dab in an innovation zone where the research can ultimately be turned into companies or biomedical innovation going forward.
Demolition and abatement are scheduled to begin this year, and the developers (1532 Tulane Parnters) have a year to finalize financing before beginning the base build-out construction, which includes renovation of interior walls, floors and common hallways, but nothing specific to the use of the spaces. Tulane will design and construct the operation-specific spaces like labs, classrooms and administration space. The goal is to occupy the building by 2025.
Of course, I had to ask Fitts the most important question related to the hospital: Is it haunted? Much to my relief, he promised ghosts would not be tenants.
“I have been assured that it will not be haunted when it opens up,” he said with a laugh.