NEW ORLEANS -- The city of New Orleans signed a deal to buy out the lease of the World Trade Center, so what happens to that site next? Mayor Mitch Landrieu suggested Friday that tearing the building down and starting over might be the best option.
The 45-year-old structure at the foot of Canal Street is considered one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the city. But it most recently made news when chunks of concrete from the building fell to the ground below.
The mayor and others seem to think that's one sign the building has outlived its original purpose.
“That's probably the most iconic space in the city, and there are all kinds of possibilities if we allow ourselves to be creative,” Landrieu said.
And creativity, the mayor says, may best be accomplished by tearing it down and taking advantage of its riverfront location.
“I want to think about creating a space that is what we call a demand space, that makes people want to come down there. I want to create a space that's open. I want you to think about Millennium Park or some of the great parks or some of the great spaces, like where the Eiffel Tower is in France.”
The mayor points to redevelopment of the riverfront near the Aquarium and Moonwalk, which his father created in the 1970s, opening up the river to foot traffic unlike ever before.
"We've tried a couple different hotels. That building doesn’t really work for it. That building has served its useful purpose. And I hope the future of the city involves an open space that invites other things that ties the river completely together."
The $2.3 million deal signed this week gives the city full control over the redevelopment plans for the 33-story building. The next step is an RFP process, which the city hopes to complete by mid-year.
It'll be the latest step in what the city calls a 14-year process to find a new use for the land.
“I mean if it was up to me, I would tear it down,” Landrieu said. “I think we have to figure out what works and what looks. But if you think about that iconic space, there is no other space like that in most cities in America on the riverfront, and we ought to take it to its highest and best use that invites the most people to participate in it."