Week in Review, Oct. 11-15: Bayou Phoenix Rises
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees hasn’t lost many competitions in New Orleans, but the contest to redevelop the former Six Flags/Jazzland site in New Orleans East is one of those rare cases. After the Brees-backed proposal to convert the 227-acre former amusement park into a logistics hub and urban farm failed to build much community support, the Colorado-based development team that pitched the idea withdrew its proposal.
The city has now selected Bayou Phoenix LLC — a group comprised of local businessman Troy Henry, local construction company TKTMJ, and Dallas-based developer Hillwood — to redevelop the site.
In a press release, Bayou Phoenix said the City applauded its “impressive financial commitments, strong DBE commitment goal of 40%, and attention to community needs.”
“Our first priority is, first and foremost, the people of East New Orleans,” said Henry, who runs Henry Consulting. “And we are looking forward to moving forward with our partners, and the City of New Orleans, to ensure their needs are fully met. We are grateful to each and every community member who reached out with feedback and support. We could not have done this without your strong, clear voices. We will continue our community outreach and include the people living in New Orleans East every step of the way.”
Here are more of the week’s top business stories:
Video Game Studio Sets Up Shop in N.O.
State officials and video game development executive Jeff Strain announced the launch today of Possibility Space, a game development studio that will “build large-scale video games for a global audience.”
The studio will be headquartered on Poydras Street in the Central Business District. More details will be announced soon.
Louisiana economic development officials say Possibility Space will become the latest addition to Louisiana’s “growing interactive entertainment cluster,” which includes inXile, a Microsoft Xbox Game Studio; High Voltage Software, part of Keywords Studios; Testronic and Turbosquid, all in New Orleans. Electronic Arts has offices in Baton Rouge.
Possibility Space said it will create 75 new permanent jobs in Louisiana with an average annual salary of $100,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in 90 new indirect jobs, for a total of 165 new jobs for New Orleans and the Southeast Region.
“The arrival of Possibility Space further secures our standing as a leader in interactive entertainment development, which continues to offer high-paying tech jobs for Louisiana residents,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in a release. “With an industry innovator such as Jeff Strain at the helm, this project could be a game-changer for video game development in Louisiana. We welcome Possibility Space as we continue to expand this exciting sector of our economy.”
Mint House New Orleans-Riverside to Open
New York-based hospitality company Mint House is opening a new property, the Mint House New Orleans-Riverside, this November at 315 Girod Street.
Mint House is a “tech-forward” hospitality concept featuring apartment-style accommodations that resemble short-term rental options “with the amenities of a high-end hotel,” according to a press release. Mint House rooms include kitchens and laundry equipment along with “boutique” workout facilities, on-site security and an option for pre-stocked groceries.
Riverside is a set of 15 “design-forward” apartments housed in a converted warehouse. Units range from one to three bedrooms. Each guest will have an in-room MIRROR and the ability to shop in-room products directly from their phone. There is a rooftop lounge.
Multi-Family Renovation in Old Jefferson
Urban Properties Real Estate, a New Orleans-based commercial brokerage, property management and development firm, has partnered with real estate investor Anthony Marullo to purchase a multi-family property at 261 Jules Avenue off of Jefferson Highway near Ochsner Health System’s main campus.
The existing three-story structure, built in 1962, totals 18,800 square feet on a half acre in Jefferson Parish. Urban Properties is planning a cosmetic renovation of the 36-unit (32 one-bedroom and 4 two-bedroom) apartment building. The renovated apartment building will offer modern multi-family residential housing in an area that lacks updated options.
Michael Bucher, partner and director of development at Urban Properties, is leading the acquisition and renovation.
“We are pleased that Marullo chose to partner with Urban on this multi-family opportunity in Jefferson,” he said. “Our firm saw this as a unique opportunity to add multi-family to our real estate portfolio, as well as meet a need for suitable housing for area healthcare workers in close proximity to Ochsner’s largest hospital in its system.”
Leadership Transition at N.O. Chamber
The New Orleans Chamber of Commerce announced that Sandra Lombana Lindquist, the current chief operating officer and executive vice president, will take over the role of CEO following the retirement of Gregory Ben Johnson, who has held the position since 2009. Lindquist brings to her new role over 25 years of experience in economic and community development in the New Orleans area and a passion for connecting businesses.
“Under the leadership of Johnson and Lindquist, the New Orleans Chamber has been instrumental to business development in New Orleans,” says Jeffery Pilet, executive committee chairman. “With Johnson at the helm, the New Orleans Chamber has been reinvented growing from under 200 members in 2009 to over 1,300 members in 2021, and it’s now one of the largest Chambers in the state.”