Development planned for land around convention center - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Development planned for land around convention center

Ernest N. Morial Convention Center officials hope to transform land around the building into a hotel, retail and recreational area with the help of private investors.

Governor Bobby Jindal last week signed legislation that gives the authority over the convention center approval to begin developing land along the riverfront.

Tourism leaders say it will make New Orleans more competitive when it comes to luring big events.

"This will put us further into the 21st century as far as a facility and all the environment that meeting goers look for," says Mark Romig, President of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. "It also opens up our riverfront even farther upriver which helps decompress the French Quarter because you want to do this responsibly and help move the visitation farther up and down the river."

Convention Center officials also plan to rework traffic around the building and throughout the Warehouse District.

"We're working with some of the best urban planners and traffic engineers in the country to see what we can do in the whole Warehouse District including access to the expressway to improve the traffic flow," says Bob Johnson, president of the Convention Center. "Many people forget that the entire Warehouse District traffic patterns were devised for the World's Fair and they haven't been looked at since so that's what we're doing now and then creating a much better external environment for our convention and meeting attendees."

The area around the Convention Center will be busy over the next few weeks. The Institute of Food Technologists will bring more than 18,000 people into town later this week and Essence Fest begins July 3.

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