The offer matches a recent appraisal of the overgrown property, which has been owned by the New Orleans Industrial Development Board since 2009. The board took title to the property from the city at the request of then-Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration.
But after a failed deal to develop an outlet mall on the property in 2013 — and underwhelming interest from developers — the board recently has pushed to offload the park. The Industrial Development Board’s primary focus is deciding on property tax breaks and other incentives for commercial and mixed-use projects.
Board President Alan Philipson said a verbal offer from Tonya Pope of proposed Jazzland developer TPC-NOLA Inc. was made Tuesday and will be considered at the board’s next meeting in January, as long as a written agreement is submitted.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration has given input on what to do with the park. But the city doesn’t have a vote on whether to sell, Philipson said.
“The authority to sell it would remain with us as owners of the property,” Philipson said. “We’re not out to disrupt anything with the city. We’re only going to do with it what’s right. We certainly wouldn’t accept an offer that was below the appraised value.”
In 2014, Pope and her team in 2014 pitched a multi-phase plan for an amusement park, a “Baritone Beach” water park, movie production facilities and retail. But the Industrial Development Board agreed that the project lacked enough financing to move forward with a lease deal.
“Without equity, we are not going to sign off on a deal here just hoping for something to come,” Philipson said this week.
On Wednesday, Pope said the plans are essentially the same, although the first phase of construction wouldn’t be the amusement park — it would instead be the beginning of a $120 million mixed-use development with retail, dining and other tenants. The development will unfold over several years as tenants sign on, she said.
The original idea was to have the amusement park restored in time for the city’s tricentennial celebration in two years, but now there’s not enough time. “So, we’re concentrating on those other elements we could have open for 2018,” Pope said.
Two roller coasters on site have been inspected and can be repaired and put back into use, she said. Other remaining rides will be removed and new equipment will be installed on the existing ride foundations.
Pope said it appears the board is ready to sell. “I know there’s been a lot of skepticism over the years that anything would ever be done with the property,” she said. “I believe they are sincere that they do want to sell the property, and they do want to move forward so it can be returned to commerce.”
The Six Flags park — which previously operated under the name Jazzland — was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina and eventually landed in the city’s ownership.
The Nagin administration asked the Industrial Development Board to take ownership of the property in 2009 with the agreement that the city would be responsible for maintaining the property, according to the board. The property was transferred officially, but Nagin never signed the agreement.
Despite pleas from the board, the Landrieu administration has refused to recognize the agreement and take over the property. The board has said grass-cutting, security patrols and handling calls from complaining neighbors have cost time and money.
The Landrieu administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the potential sale.
Philipson said at the board’s meeting Tuesday, city officials asked the board to end the current request-for-proposals for the property, but there was no support from the board for such a move.