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New Orleans leaders announce efforts to revitalize Piazza d'Italia

This downtown gem is obscured by parking lots. (Source: Daniel Lobo, Flickr) This downtown gem is obscured by parking lots. (Source: Daniel Lobo, Flickr)
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New Orleans officials made a public appeal Tuesday for new ideas on how to transform what are now two surface parking lots at 542 Tchoupitoulas Street and 545 South Peters Street.

Those parking lots are adjacent to the 37-year-old Piazza D'Italia.

The request for proposals marks the latest effort by members of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration to breathe new life into the Piazza, which visitors and locals often overlook because of the vast parking lots that surround it.

In a news release from New Orleans City Hall, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, “The New Orleans market is now very strong now – we signed a lease agreement just last week to redevelop the iconic building at 2 Canal Street as a Four Season Hotel and condominiums. We feel now is the right time to develop the City-owned site adjacent to the Piazza d'Italia. I encourage potential developers to be thoughtful and bold in their proposals that should complement and enhance this City-owned jewel while also reflecting New Orleans' culture and heritage.”

Cindy Connick, Executive Director of the Canal Street Development Corporation, said in a prepared statement, “Since 1978, the Piazza d'Italia has stood as an important public space that commemorates the contributions made by the New Orleans Italian community. The property around this architectural marvel presents an exceptional real estate development opportunity at a time when the New Orleans real estate market is experiencing robust growth. Through this multi-phase process that is based on national best practices for development, we are confident we will attract numerous proposals to develop this site that will maximize the City's return on investment now and into the future.”

According to city leaders, the selection process for prospective developers will be similar to that used for the World Trade Center.

After receiving proposals through the request for qualifications process, the city will select the most qualified respondents who will then provide more detailed plans through a request for proposals. Later, a selection committee will choose the best candidate.

The deadline for the request for qualifications is June 30.

The development corporation wants to sign a lease in the first quarter of 2016 with construction beginning a short time later, according to city officials.

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