Ben Franklin grad fell to his death at abandoned power plant in New Orleans, officials say

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 12:18 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An investigation is underway after an 18-year-old man reportedly fell 50 feet to his death at an abandoned building in New Orleans, according to the NOPD.

Police say the man fell just after 9 p.m. on Fri., July 29 at the Market Street Power Plant in the 1600 block of S. Peters Street. The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office identified the victim as Anthony Clawson.

Clawson was transported to a local hospital where he later died from blunt force trauma.

Benjamin Franklin High School lists Clawson as a 2022 graduate.

“We are shocked and devastated by this tragic loss of a recent graduate,” a Ben Franklin spokesperson said in a statement. “Tony was a wonderful, kind student who was just about to start at LSU and had a bright future ahead of him. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

The power plant was originally constructed in 1902 and consists of seven separate buildings. It last produced power in 1973.

More: NOFD responds to a second fire at abandoned naval facility in Bywater

In early 2007, Entergy New Orleans sold the plant and surrounding property to Market Street Properties LLC for $10 million.

In September 2015, the plant was sold to developer Joe Jaeger in foreclosure after the proposed development of a residential, retail, and entertainment center never moved forward.

In February 2022, a team of developers landed a deal to invest in the historic structure. Lauricella Land Company, Brian Gibbs Development, and Cypress Equities plan to renovate the existing structure and convert it into a hotel and entertainment venue.

The group, Lauricella, Gibbs, and Cypress, are also part of The River District team that won a bid to develop the vacant land that sits between the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the Market Street Power Plant.

Meanwhile in the Bywater neighborhood, safety remains a concern at the former naval base facility where firefighters battled flames for the second time in three weeks.

“We do often hear gunshots and things like that over there so that’s obviously stressful,” said resident Jenny Maldonado.

Only 20 days since city officials and property developers cleared out and re-secured the property, trespassing continues. The New Orleans Police Department responded to more than 23 calls for service to the site in the last three weeks.

“There are supposedly three security guards over there but I mean every time I drive by it feels like there’s still traffic coming in and out,” said Maldonado.

“I hope that the conversations are that they’re learning how to patrol it better because obviously there’s still things happening and I’m hoping that this will help them patrol the Naval facility in a better way,” said Bywater business owner Eric Jensen.

It raises the question of security and safety at all blighted buildings in New Orleans-- from the former naval base facility to the old power plant.

In a statement from a City Spokesperson:

“All properties in the City must meet minimum property maintenance standards and comply with the International Building Code, which the City has adopted. City Code also indicates an owner’s obligation to secure vacant buildings against entry. Both sites are currently under private development, in which the owner assumes responsibility and ensures that the security of the site is maintained. The City continues to be a supportive partner and remains in close contact with the developers and all local law enforcement agencies. Most importantly, the City is working to get these properties back into commerce, which is the only path to ensuring that they are no longer nuisances and hazards in our community.”

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