NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - After a number of starts, stops and years of neglect, a city selection committee chose the Four Seasons to be part of a local team to redevelop the old World Trade Center site.
The selection was made Tuesday afternoon after three hours of lengthy discussion. It is considered one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in New Orleans.
"Four Seasons has the best economic proposal to the city and New Orleans Business Corporation," said Andy Kopplin, the city's chief administrative officer.
The winning bidder promises a level of service the city has not seen.
"Four Seasons will bring a level of clientele (and) a new quality of people," said Richard Friedman of Carpenter & Co., who is behind the Four Seasons plan.
The Four Season would build a 350 room hotel on floors seven through 19, with hotel serviced condos on floors 21 through 30.
The Four Seasons group would also build two new wings on the building to house restaurants, ballrooms, and a tribute to local African-American history.
"We'll still see the building, two additions open up, and cover the building improvements to the area," said Paul Flower, of Woodward Design + Build, who is also part of the investment group.
The Four Seasons promises direct economic benefits to the city of over $405 million over the life of the lease. The group beat out four competitors, including Starwood Hotels, Conrad Hotels, Hotel Alessandra, and Godfrey Hotel.
I'm here to talk about the jobs crisis in the city of New Orleans," resident Reginald Junior told the council.
City officials promise to provide jobs for those who need them most.
No matter who is selected, more than $80 million will be invested in disadvantaged businesses and more than 800 construction jobs," said. Ashleigh Gardere, executive director of the city's Network for Economic Opportunity.
The New Orleans City Council will have to approve the lease, perhaps as early as May 7.
The investment group has committed to paying the city $3.75 million in rent each year. It's also committed 2.5 percent of the proceeds from the sale of condos.
Its target completion date is December of 2017.