NEW ORLEANS — Control issues need to be ironed out before Bayou Phoenix rises in the east.
“We’re committed to the project,” developer Troy Henry said. “We’re $1 million in, but at the same point in time, we’re not going to do a bad deal.”
One year ago this week, there was great fanfare when New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced Henry and the Bayou Phoenix team as the city’s pick to redevelop the long-abandoned six flags site.
“Today we have some significant changes coming to New Orleans East, the city of New Orleans that will benefit all of us,” Mayor Cantrell said last October.
True to the history of the site, the project continues to have as many twists and turns as the Mega Zeph roller coaster at the amusement park which closed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Henry now claims the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) which is expected to take formal ownership of the 227-acre tract of land wants too much control over the project.
“It’s a clear example of why developers have a tough time dealing with New Orleans because this is in my opinion a very difficult arrangement that they’ve proposed for us and one that we don’t view as an acceptable arrangement,” Henry said.
Bayou Phoenix envisioned outdoor ball fields, indoor courts, waterparks, retail shops, and other amenities as part of a new family-friendly destination just off I-10.
City Councilman Oliver Thomas whose district includes the old Six Flags was hoping to have a final deal signed and the developer on site sometime next month.
“Let’s hope they negotiate something that’s good for the city, good for the east, and good for the developer,” Thomas said. “We want everybody to win.”
Henry says at this point the project is not at an impasse.
The feasibility study and pre-development work are almost complete
But he admits time kills deals.
“We haven’t stopped spending money, but there will come a point in time, that if we don’t get this done, then yeah, we’ll have to put our pens down and our checkbooks down as well.”
Henry said they are willing to accept some levels of oversight, including off-ramps if Bayou Phoenix fails to perform.
Other than that, he maintains the city needs to get out of the way and let them do their job.