Jazzland study will improve property’s redevelopment process, organizers hope

Updated: Sep. 8, 2019 at 10:44 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Though redevelopment talks are finally on the table for the abandoned Six Flags Jazzland property in New Orleans East, there’s still a long way to go.

Quentin Messer Jr. is CEO and president of the New Orleans Business Alliance, the group facilitating a conversation on the former Jazzland property. The alliance recently helped released a study on possibilities for the space moving forward and Messer said he understands residents are eager for less talk, and more action.

“We understand the frustration. We understand the disappointment and no, we are not going to meet this thing to death or have another study. No. But they have to understand information is ever-changing,” Messer said.

Messer said the latest study was the Cantrell administration’s effort to do its own research on the land. He said a lot has changed in 14 years, affecting the way organizations like his promote the property, from the marketplace to tourism trends and federal law.

“We haven’t had anyone bite, but I’m guardedly optimistic that now that we do have the opportunity zone and, I’m not saying it’s a silver bullet, but it is a game changer,” Messer said.

He said these opportunity zones are part of a 2017 nationwide statute allowing investors to avoid paying tax liability if they put their money towards specially designated properties that have previously been overlooked or neglected. What’s more, Messer said prioritizing the land can make it more appealing.

“They want to bring back, as aggressively as possible, Jazzland back to commerce, and when you have the political leadership saying that’s what we’re willing to do, that sends a very powerful message," he said.

Messer said past experience is also helping to shape the way they actively market the land and to whom.

“Sometimes, you learn by hearing no, and I think there have been a lot of no’s over the years. And, I think we are refining our pitch,” Messer said. “We realize it’s not going to appeal to everybody. That’s okay.”

Messer reiterated there is no master plan. Ultimately, he said progress is being made, but the final decision on what this land becomes will be up to the residents and a developer. Still, he said, it will likely take some time.

“It’s one of the largest parcels here in New Orleans. How to do it, think about it in a thoughtful, master-planned contacts, to make sure we not only provide jobs for residence today, but provide a future for the children and grandchildren of those residents,” Messer said. “The city has a is working on developing a opportunity zone strategy. We’re going to continue to aggressively pitch the site.”

According to Messer, the city plans to offer further incentives on top of the opportunity zones to turbo charge interest in properties like Jazzland.

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