More than four months after Vista Louisiana was selected as the new master developer for the non-military parts of Federal City, that firm and the public agency in charge of the 146-acre site at the former U.S. Navy Base in Algiers have agreed on a contract that will let things progress, an official announcement said Tuesday.
A formal signing of the pact involving Vista Louisiana LLC and the Algiers Development District — which owns Federal City — is expected before the end of January.
Once the contract is executed, Vista Louisiana will be able to proceed with development of the 118-acre unsecured section of Federal City dedicated to retail, residential housing, hotel lodging, restaurants and recreational activities.
It was originally thought that contract negotiations would be done in October. But Kathy Lynn Honaker, executive director of the Algiers Development District, said things dragged on because the talks required coordinating 14 people’s schedules.
“Negotiations went very well ... They’ve been wonderful, both the Vista group and their attorneys,” Honaker said. “It was more the logistics ... (and) the timing than anything.”
Honaker explained that the Algiers Development District is not paying Vista Louisiana anything up front. She said both sides will negotiate compensation for Vista Louisiana on a deal-by-deal basis depending on the types of developments that take place on the site in the future.
A statement from Vista Louisiana’s Tom Miller said the focus now shifts to pulling “together the best minds” to create a new master plan.
“Part of that process will be to work to gather input from the residents of this great community, which will be a critical component when developing our plan for this signature development,” Miller added.
Consisting of North Carolina’s Vista Trust and DeVere Construction as well as New Orleans’ MCC Development & Real Estate and Manning Architects, Vista Louisiana in September beat out Federal Development Partners for the right to negotiate a contract to bring to fruition Phase II of the Federal City project.
Miller, who assembled the winning development team, has previously said Vista Louisiana could infuse more than $200 million into Federal City in the next five to seven years. He also has said the partnership has relationships with retailers eager to open stores on the West Bank of the Mississippi River in New Orleans.
Vista Louisiana replaces HRI/EEC, which in February stepped away as Federal City’s master developer in the wake of a lengthy legal dispute with the site’s owners and managers.
Federal City was seeded with $150 million from the state of Louisiana. Work on the first phase of the project began in 2008 with the Marine Force Reserves Headquarters. Next came a 400-seat auditorium, a YMCA fitness complex, a child development center, the New Orleans Police Department’s 4th District headquarters and a 128-room hotel.
That phase also includes the New Orleans Military & Maritime Academy charter school. The former Naval Support Facility’s chapel is scheduled to become the student life center for Delgado Community College’s West Bank campus.
The target completion date for an updated Federal City master plan is May 30, Honaker said.