Only one developer submitted plans by a Tuesday deadline to revamp two city-owned parking lots near the Piazza d’Italia monument on Poydras Street, officials said Wednesday. That means the developer is all but certain to land the project, barring a city decision to issue a new request for proposals.
The lone development team still in the running — ICD Sitra and investors Crowninvest LLC and Operadora de Servicios para Hoteles de Lujo — submitted a well-received proposal in response to an initial request for qualifications. A selection committee in September gave ICD the highest score of five applicants.
The list of five was then whittled down to three: ICD Sitra; the joint venture of Carter & Associates, Majestic Realty Co. and Oakwood Development; and Chrysolite Management Group LLC.
The original Nov. 18 deadline for final proposals was extended until Tuesday, city officials said, to give the firms more time to finalize their project teams and financing.
The extension also came weeks after two City Council members urged the Canal Street Development Corp., the public benefit corporation that manages the Piazza parking lots for the city, to try harder to get more local and minority workers hired on the project.
The single plan under consideration would turn the two parking lots, at 542 Tchoupitoulas St. and 545 S. Peters St., into a 29-floor, 355-room “lifestyle” hotel and a 14-floor, 155-room “select service” hotel. Both would be part of the Hard Rock Hotel brand and would feature a spa, a “rock shop,” specialty restaurants, a business center and a rooftop pool.
Included in the 14-floor hotel’s plan are spaces for what developers hope will become a New Orleans Center for Creative Arts center and a “jam school.” The developers plan to provide 20,602 square feet of meeting or convention space and 81,612 square feet of parking space.
The Hard Rock Hotel collaboration is a new addition for ICD Sitra. Chrysolite once touted a similar idea.
ICD Sitra said its proposed development will create 1,800 jobs during construction and 450 permanent full-time and part-time jobs once the hotel and retail shops are open. The project would cost an estimated $125.5 million and take about two years to complete.
The developers propose paying the city 4 percent of gross hotel room revenues for 99 years.
To meet the city’s goals for disadvantaged business enterprise participation and local hiring, ICD said it will, notably, partner with Liberty Bank to provide small businesses with low-interest loans to help them make payroll and pay for large materials orders as they await compensation from the larger prime contractor.
DBE subcontractors have complained that prime contractors sometimes stall contract payments to force DBEs into default.
The development team also touted a permanent partnership with Global Parking Systems LLC, a New Orleans-based DBE that will provide valet parking for the hotels’ guests.
The project’s selection committee plans to fully evaluate ICD Sitra’s plan, Canal Street Development Corp. Executive Director Cindy Connick said Wednesday. That committee, which is made up of Connick, city Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin and three other city officials, is scheduled to hold a public meeting early next year.
Stephen Gailbraith, who serves on Chrysolite Management’s development team, said Wednesday that his firm didn’t submit a proposal because another site became available sooner. “It made more sense to go there than to push forward on this project,” he said.
Jerome Hagley of Carter and Associates said his firm ultimately decided that its original plan, for a high-density residential tower and potentially a boutique hotel, wasn’t right for the space. When asked if the City Council’s push for more local hires played any factor in his team’s decision, he said no, and pointed up Carter’s earlier pledge for local and minority business participation.
The Piazza d’Italia was designed by renowned post-modern architect Charles Moore and the local firm Perez & Associates and was dedicated in 1978 as a tribute to Italian-Americans’ contributions to the city’s culture.
The city hopes to finalize a lease for the surrounding parking lots by April 20.
Update: 12/17/15 This story has been updated to reflect Jerome Hagley’s comments and to include more information about Chrysolite’s proposal.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.