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Ernest N. Morial Convention Center expansion plans are stalled

Plans may "go back to the drawing board" if a deal isn't reached by the end of the year

An ambitious plan to redevelop a vacant tract of land around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center into the city’s "Trade District"—complete with a large hotel, restaurants, entertainment venues, and apartments—has reached a stalemate, The Advocate reports.

The Convention Center purchased the 47-acre tract of land upriver of the center in 2000, but plans to develop the land were scrapped after Hurricane Katrina. In 2015, the center’s board began negotiating with a group of developers including the Howard Hughes Corp., Joe Jaeger, and Darryl Berger. They proposed the "Trade District" that would include a new hotel, apartments, condos, restaurants, entertainment space, "new access to the waterfront with a green space that could rival Woldenberg in terms of scale and in terms of activity," "a campus for education or a museum, a culinary emporium," and a "landmark tower."

But for many reasons—including the "massive level of public and private investment" involved and other factors complicating the project—there’s been no movement on that project since then. The center's board had hoped to have the project completed in time for the city's 300th birthday celebration in 2018.

But that, and another project tied to the Convention Center, might get some traction soon: The planned linear park along Convention Center Boulevard may reach the design phase by the end of the year, according to the Advocate piece. And the City Planning Commission will consider zoning changes for the vacant tract that would pave the way for new development. However, Convention Center President and General Manager Bob Johnson says if no agreement is reached by the end of the year, it may be prudent to "go back to the drawing board" with this.