Six months after cutting ties with its second master developer, the board that controls the sprawling former naval base in Algiers known as Federal City is once again looking for suitors to build out the site.
The Algiers Development District announced Wednesday that it is accepting inquiries from developers through Feb. 28, a process that will allow it to see who is interested in masterminding the development process.
It has posted materials identifying one 10-acre site for commercial development and three smaller ones totaling 14 acres for residential development.
However, Troy Carter, the Algiers state senator who chairs the district's board of commissioners, said he hopes the process will bring to the table potential partners who want to do a lot more than that.
He said development teams will have to hew to Federal City's mission of providing commercial, residential, educational and health care-based development. But beyond that, the sky is the limit for what amounts to just under a million square feet available for development, he said.
"We are soliciting as creative and broad a (range of suitors) as possible,” he said. "We really want people from all over the world to look at this 165-acre area and say, 'We can do something with that.' ”
The process represents yet another chapter in the quest to breathe life into Federal City, which was born over a decade ago when the state seeded the shuttered military base with $150 million for redevelopment.
Work began in 2008 on the Marine Corps Forces Reserve Headquarters that now sits on the property, which also includes a hotel, a fitness center, the New Orleans Police Department’s 4th District headquarters and the New Orleans Military & Maritime Academy charter school.
But by 2014, the site's rebirth had stalled, leaving large swaths of the property empty, amid a legal battle with the property's first master developer, HRI/EEC, which stepped aside in 2014. The second master developer, a team called Vista Louisiana, was hired in 2015, but that partnership became embroiled in lawsuits the following year.
Vista had been hired during the tenure of the ADD's previous chairman, former state Rep. Jeff Arnold, and after Carter came in the board accused Vista of not disclosing all the required financial data and missing deadlines.
Carter said the ADD board and Vista settled that case about six months ago, freeing the agency to begin a new search for partners with a clean slate.
There have been some positive developments at the site in recent years. Delgado Community College is planning to build a 35,000-square-foot school on the property, and the fitness center, which has had a slew of operators come and go, has been taken over by LSU. Carter said LSU is now looking at building a primary care center at the site.
Carter said the board may still go the route of having a master developer, but it depends on what kind of interest the solicitation generates. The ADD is the owner of the property, but any developer will ultimately have to finance the projects themselves.