River District Megadevelopment Moving Forward in New Orleans

The project, led by Gensler, will span 39 acres of residential units, retail, and cultural attractions.

June 22, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Project site, New Orleans waterfront.

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Exhibition Hall Authority / Project site, New Orleans waterfront

New Orleans "is slated to join the nationwide trend towards megadevelopments with the 39-acre River District, a new 2.4 million square-feet mixed-use district upriver from New Orleans’s Crescent City Connection Bridge," writes Matthew Marani in The Architect's Newspaper. The project's design will be led by Gensler and a group of partners known as the River District Neighborhood LLC. "In its proposal, the River District Neighborhood noted that the project will include over 1,000 market-rate residential units, 450 workforce and affordable housing units, a 750,000 square-foot corporate campus, as well as a number of cultural attractions, retail and dining, hotels, public parks, art installations, and the Louisiana Civil Rights Museum."

The first phase of construction, which is scheduled to start this year and last until 2023, " will focus on road and sidewalk construction and other infrastructure improvements, as well as the museum, nearly 100,000 square feet of retail, and two hotels." The proposal, Marani says, "does attempt to connect to the city at large through several planning features, namely the potential $40 million extension of the Riverwalk streetcar line into the area, a number of protected bike lanes, as well as pedestrian-friendly street layouts." Addressing criticism about displacement, the developers claim that "approximately 30 percent of retail space will be reserved for disadvantaged business enterprise, also known as DBEs, and that the River District Neighborhood LLC counts 27 percent African American equity ownership as well as 18 percent women equity ownership."

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