Date set for $450M New Orleans World Trade Center conversion
- Massachusetts-based developer Carpenter & Co. is expected to begin the $450 million conversion of New Orleans' World Trade Center into a Four Seasons Hotel on May 1, according to New Orleans City Business.
- The new 33-story hotel will include more than 300 guest rooms, 80 condominiums, a spa, a rooftop pool, a restaurant and 28,000 square feet of meeting space. A two-story, rooftop cupola, formerly a restaurant in the round, will be converted into a sightseeing attraction that will focus on Louisiana's African-American culture through music, food and other traditions.
- The project is expected to create 1,600 temporary construction jobs. The hotel is expected to be completed in two years and will reportedly generate 450 permanent positions and add $10 million to the local economy on an annual basis. A lawsuit filed three years ago by another developer claiming irregularities in the city's bidding process threatened to sideline the project, but a district judge rejected its argument.
Scrutiny of how a project is awarded is intensified when hundreds of millions of dollars — even $1 billion — are at stake.
Last August, the Associated General Contractors of America's Louisiana chapter (LAGC) also questioned the city's bidding process after it negotiated the $6 million rebuilding of Bourbon Street into an existing agreement with a contractor that was already working under a $3.9 million civil paving contract. The LAGC argued that the Bourbon Street work should have been put out to bid and promised to monitor the way future city construction projects are awarded.
The search for a consortium to redevelop the Kansas City International Airport terminal also came under the magnifying glass when it was revealed that the selection committee did not equitably compare when evaluating the $1 billion proposals. The committee ultimately could not produce a worksheet or matrix that showed an obvious path leading them to the winner, Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate. An informal ranking had a group led by construction and engineering giant AECOM on top, but, after speculation about a bid protest that never materialized, Edgemoor was awarded the project.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) tracks the number of bid protests on federally funded projects. In its 2017 bid protest report, the GAO said it sustained 17% of the bid protests it received, citing unreasonable technical evaluations, unreasonable past performance evaluations, unreasonable cost or price evaluations, inadequate documentation of the record, and flawed selection decisions.
- New Orleans City Business Former World Trade Center redevelopment to begin May 1
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter