Week in Review, March 22-26: Amazon in Slidell … and ‘Caesars Superdome’?

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NEW ORLEANS – The three biggest stories of the week involve big plans for the New Orleans riverfront, a new distribution center for Amazon in Slidell and a potential new name for the Superdome.

Plans to develop 39 acres immediately upriver from the Morial Convention Center took a step forward this week. The Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority selected River District Neighborhood Investors – led by Louis Lauricella – as its partner in the development of new dining, retail, housing and entertainment offerings. Convention Center leaders hope the investment will make New Orleans more competitive with Nashville, Atlanta, Las Vegas and other U.S. cities vying for meeting business. The project is part of a $557 million capital improvement plan that began in 2018. A 7.5-acre pedestrian park in front of the existing Convention Center is already complete. Work is underway to modernize the interior of the facility. Plans for a new 1,200-room hotel, estimated to cost an additional $500 million, were put on hold during the pandemic due to the uncertainty surrounding the meeting business.

Meanwhile, Amazon Logistics said it will build a new 140,000-square-foot delivery station at 1914 Town Center Parkway in Slidell. Expected to open in 2022, the facility will be the first of its kind in St. Tammany Parish and the third in Louisiana. “We welcome Amazon Logistics and its hundreds of future employees to the company’s new delivery station in Slidell,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Amazon’s investment in Louisiana enhances our logistics sector by providing new career opportunities and crucial consumer connections.” Observers expect to see more delivery stations in Louisiana in the near future.

Lastly, reports surfaced that Caesars Entertainment Inc. will sign a 20-year naming rights deal for the Superdome, which will no longer bear the Mercedes-Benz brand as of July 2021. A new name has not been announced and neither Caesar’s nor the Saints are offering any further details. Caesars, though, appears to be betting big on New Orleans. In addition to the potential Superdome naming rights deal, the casino company also plans to spend more than $300 million on a renovation of the existing Harrah’s Casino that will also involve changing the facility’s name to Caesars New Orleans. 

More Top Stories

Only months after concerns the coronavirus pandemic would force hefty budget cuts, the AP reports that Louisiana instead is awash in billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 aid passed by Democrats in Congress. Those billions — including nearly $3.4 billion in direct federal aid to the state — are changing the financial conversations of Gov. John Bel Edwards and state lawmakers ahead of the regular legislative session that starts April 12. And that’s not even counting the $1.8 billion sent to cities, parishes and municipalities — or the $2.6 billion going directly to K-12 education and $545 million headed straight to public colleges.

Even though Louisiana may be enjoying the windfall from Washington, that didn’t stop Attorney General Jeff Landry from leading 13 states to sue the Biden administration to end a suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water and to reschedule canceled sales of leases in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska waters and western states. The Republican-leaning states seek a court order ending the moratorium imposed after Democratic President Joe Biden signed executive orders on climate change on Jan. 27. The suit specifically seeks an order that the government go ahead with a sale of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico that had been scheduled for March 17 until it was canceled; and a lease sale that had been planned for this year in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

Two New Behavioral Health Options

River Place Behavioral Health’s new adolescent unit has officially opened to treat adolescents age 12-17 who struggle with conditions like depression, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. River Place expects to treat approximately 400 patients per year at its 22-inpatient bed unit. In 2018, Ochsner Health partnered with Acadia Healthcare, a national leader in behavioral healthcare services, to open River Place Behavioral Health, an 82-bed inpatient facility. Through the joint venture, Acadia manages the hospital while Ochsner psychiatrists and providers deliver much needed inpatient behavioral health services to adults and adolescents.

Meanwhile, Oceans Healthcare announced the opening of Oceans Behavioral Hospital Greater New Orleans’ new flagship campus. The Bellemeade campus, located at 229 Bellemeade Boulevard in Gretna, joins locations in Marrero and Kenner as part of the Oceans Healthcare Greater New Orleans network. Oceans Behavioral Hospital Greater New Orleans provides inpatient services, including individual and group therapies, medication management, mental health education and treatment for co-occurring health issues, under the supervision of board-certified or board-eligible psychiatrists. The 48-bed hospital specializes in treatment for adults age 20 and older who are managing depression, anxiety, behavioral side effects of Alzheimer’s or dementia and other forms of mental illness.

Light (and Sound) at the End of the Tunnel for Live Events

When live events shut down a year ago, performers and venues weren’t the only economic casualties. The production companies that provide audio equipment, lighting, video and other elements for concerts, festivals and meetings also have been hibernating for the last 12 months and doing their best to survive until business picks back up. Don Drucker, owner of Pyramid Productions (and former tour manager for the Eagles), said he sees light – and hears music – at the end of the tunnel.



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