Nine years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters overwhelmed the city, and the Six Flags Amusement Park in East New Orleans was not spared. And almost a decade after the storm, the park remains closed, but for some Hollywood South filming it has not been placed back into commerce.
"Whenever you have something that looks shuttered and abandoned, you want it to be redone and revitalized and re-tooled to make it active for the community to be able to use, of course, we like to see something there," said Sylvia Scineaux-Richard, President of the East New Orleans Neighborhood Advisory Commission that works to increase home ownership and manage economic development growth.
She said it is time for another large-scale family friendly venture on the sprawling site.
"A type of activity that would be for sports, for kids, for [a] waterpark, for shopping, for restaurants - something that would be a multi-use for families to attend," said Scineaux-Richard.
The president of the Industrial Development Board Alan Philipson said the board still has two proposals, one from TPC-Nola, Inc. and the other from Transformation Village. But he said to date neither has satisfied the board's concerns relating to equity.
District E Councilman James Gray who represents eastern New Orleans said he would like to see redevelopment that includes a hotel on the site.
"The board has looked for proposals, we've gotten a couple, there does not seem to be adequate support for the board to approve either of those two right now. I think part of that deals with the hope that there will be other proposals," said Gray.
In a statement, Aimee Quirk, Senior Advisor for Economic Development said:
"The City is committed to redeveloping the former Six Flags site for positive economic use and believes there is strong interest in the property. The City worked with the IDB, which owns the property, to put together a structured, transparent process to receive and evaluate offers on a rolling basis. We're looking forward to the redevelopment of this property into a viable asset for the community."
Tonya Pope is with TPC-NOLA, Inc. She would jump at the chance to redevelop the site.
"It would take about 18 months, the buildings themselves except for one near the main gate are all structurally sound. We want to reopen the park as Jazzland to celebrate Louisiana's unique art, music and cultural heritage.
Her plan includes a water park and movie studio production back-lot and a mixed use venue.
She concedes she does not have the millions in hand for the project... yet.
"You can't really expect $50 million sitting in the bank when you don't have the project for investors to do their due diligence on. We really need a nod of approval from the mayor's office, so that the investors can feel confident that this project will happen. We have the resources to start work, we could be in here next week," said Pope.
Pope said as the park remains locked up, she has millions of dollars in tax credits that will expire at the end of the year.
"It's about $3 million in tax credits, so it's significant monies, you know, we're not asking for city money, you know, we're not asking for the city to put a dime more into this park," added Pope.
Councilman James Gray said he is confident that the site will return to major commerce.
"I can't promise you that we're going to have a deal on the Six Flags in the next six months, or a year even, but I think we're going to get a deal on Six Flags," he said.
He and others believe that now that the economic development engine is revved up in eastern New Orleans other investors will surely come.
"It usually does when you have those major pieces within a community it more or less heralds other investors to come and take a second look," said Scineaux-Richard.