NEW ORLEANS - It has been an iconic part of the New Orleans skyline for decades, but plans to tear down the World Trade Center may be on the horizon.
Tourism officials want to tear it down and repurpose the site. The building has been shuttered for years, but there is a growing campaign to save it.
You may have seen the signs popping up in yards throughout the city, urging officials to “Save the World Trade Center.”
Gatehouse Capitol is the developer behind the campaign. The company wants to transform the building into a flagship W hotel and luxury apartments, with a John Besh restaurant and rooftop bar.
“Our proposal is $190 million of private capital, generating 2,500 new jobs and tens of millions in revenue for the city,” said David Garcia, with DAG Development, the local co-development partner for Gatehouse. “From the very beginning we've always said that our plan would complement and enhance the tourism objectives.”
But tourism officials say there are enough hotels, and they have a different vision. They want to tear down the World Trade Center and build an undetermined monument in its place. It would be part of the push to redevelop the New Orleans riverfront for the 2018 tricentennial celebration.
“We don't know exactly what it would look like, but it really could be a game changer for New Orleans economy, for creating jobs, and really driving the economy forward,” said Kelly Schulz, vice president of the New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
“Imagine if the builders of the Superdome would have just put a hotel in place of the Superdome, instead of this iconic building that is of benefit for visitors and for locals to the city.”
In the past, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said he would support a plan to tear down the World Trade Center. Now, five members of his administration will help select which of three plans will move forward.
Two plans, including that from Gatehouse Capitol and another from James Burch, LLC., would maintain the structure as a mixed use hotel. The plan from the Tricentennial Consortium calls for tearing down the building and repurposing the site.
Those who want to save the World Trade Center say the 33-story building, designed by a renowned architect nearly 50 years ago, could still be an asset for the city. It was the first World Trade Center in the country.
“There's nothing wrong with that building. It's perfect,” said Patricia Gay. “We think that to lose something of value would not be the way to kick off the tricentennial celebration.”
The first public meeting on the future of the World Trade Center will be held next Tuesday at 10 a.m. inside City Hall.
Those in favor of saving the World Trade Center will hold a public rally in front of City Hall at 9 a.m., before the meeting begins.