Audubon Institute to unveil new riverfront development plan

Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 8:30 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -- The Audubon Institute this week will submit to the city plans to revamp a huge part of the New Orleans riverfront and place it under its control. The plan still needs many pieces to fall into place, including financing.

Since before the age of the paddlewheel, the New Orleans riverfront has been the city’s front door. And plans are drawn for a rebirth.

More than 30 years ago, the Audubon Institute reinvented a section of the New Orleans riverfront, which now features the Aquarium of the Americas and Woldenberg Park.

Now, Audubon would like to see its vision carried forward from Spanish Plaza to Bywater, and will submit preliminary plans to the city on Friday (Aug. 4).

“We are very excited about this project, because it’s a 2.25-mile stretch. It will be the longest continuous riverfront park in America,” Institute vice president Chemine Saloy said.

Under a 5-year-old redevelopment contract with the city, the Audubon Institute proposes a plan whose costs have ballooned to $30 million. It would reshape the riverfront to include more green space, dog parks pickleball courts and concert spaces.

“I think it would be a good idea,” New Orleans resident Patrick High said. “A lot of it is pretty under-utilized. There’s not very much going on around there.”

The Institute hopes to get $15 million from the city to put toward the project, but so far no commitment has been made.

“We don’t have design. We don’t have construction costs,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. “So, it’s a little premature to talk about what are the costs.”

The Audubon Institute has a successful track record of managing properties on the riverfront, and says enhanced security will be part of the mix if the project is approved.

“It will be public green space, open for all, that we will maintain and manage and keep safe,” Saloy said.

Conceptual plans already have been approved by the Port of New Orleans and other entities. But final approval rests with the city, as it prepares to host the NFL’s championship game in less than two years.

“Super Bowl 2025 is one of my internal themes that I set with my teams across the board,” Cantrell said.

Though funding has yet to be secured, Audubon Institute officials are confident.

“We know the city is committed to riverfront development. And here, we have a great team and we are confident will be able to raise the funds,” Saloy said.

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