NEW ORLEANS — Kermit Ruffins performed in front of the World Trade Center on Monday hoping for a long-term gig in the building if the James Burch company gets to renovate it.
"A top-of-the-line jazz club in the World Trade Center right here in New Orleans, and they want me to be a part of it, and I jumped on board right away," Ruffins said.
The Burch Group's $180 million proposal would fill the 33-story building with a hotel, apartments, office space and a retail center.
"It means we save this historic building," Burch Group Spokesman Allan Katz said.
Meanwhile, Mark Romig of the Tricentennial Consortium countered, "We see a plaza where people can come enjoy the River."
The Tricentenial Consortium of area tourism leaders would tear down the 45-year old building and turn the site into a tourist attraction, setting up a design competition to allow public input on what the group hopes to end with an iconic symbol of New Orleans.
A third group, Gatehouse Capital, has a $190 million plan that would restore the building, opening a hotel and apartments while adding a five-story building for parking and a ballroom.
"Our project, which would create over 2500 new jobs, it would create tens of millions of new revenue," Gatehouse Capital’s David Garcia said. "(It) would activate that part of the riverfront in a really powerful way.”
A committee consisting of five members – two deputy mayors and the heads of three public corporations – will meet Tuesday to listen to the qualifications of all three bidders. A decision won’t be made, though they’ll turn their findings over to the New Orleans Building Corporation.
While Ruffins played for the future Monday, Gatehouse plans a rally at 9 a.m. Tuesday before the commission meets at 10 a.m. in the Homeland Security Conference Room on the eighth floor of City Hall.
The Bureau of Governmental Research released an analysis of the three bids in a report titled 'Three Visions For Two Canal Street’ which concludes that the future of the riverfront could hinge on the city's choice.