In The News › Council to vote Thursday on Lake Forest Plaza redevelopment

Council to vote Thursday on Lake Forest Plaza redevelopment

Monday, September 28, 2009
Reported by: Allison Braxton, Reporter
Fox 8 News, New Orleans

New Orleans – New Orleans East residents plan to pack the City Council chambers this Thursday.

The council will once again take up the issue of a high-profile tax break. It would help a developer who says his vision will dramatically transform what used to be the Lake Forest Plaza.

For the past four years time has stood still at the Grand Theater at the old Lake Forest Plaza site. Real estate agent and New Orleans East resident, Sylvia Richard is tired of spending her money in Jefferson and Saint Tammany parishes.

“Well I think the residents of New Orleans East deserve it all a hospital, a mall, a park, and a library,” says Richard.

On Thursday, she and other resident plan to pack the city council chambers to hear what will happen to the Plaza site. Developer Cesar Burgos plans to bring life back to more than1 million square feet of retail space.

“What we’re proposing is for us to develop a $217 million mall that would become an economic engine for the city of New Orleans generating net gains of over $240 million over the course of the repayment of the bonds,” Burgos.

Last week City Council members delayed voting on a tax break for developer Burgos.Under the proposed tax increment financing agreement or TIF, the tax money would help pay for infrastructure and improvements at the former plaza site. The state would give up two cents of its sales tax revenue for 20-years.

But a study by the Bureau of Governmental Research criticizes the tax increments and finds that the developers will benefit from the proposal more than the city.
Senator Ann Duplessis believes those issues have been resolved.

“Hopefully, there is no hold up, the developers and City Council have been able to really work out most if not all of the issues and things that were of some concern,” said Duplessis.

Residents also wanted asked for a written cooperative agreement that guarantees at least two big box stores, certain wages, and a set time frame on construction to begin.

FOX 8 also contacted members of the New Orleans City Council to find how they plan to vote on Thursday,but they did not return our calls.

If they project get the green light on Thursday the state will have to sign off on the tax agreement and the developer Caesar Burgos says construction should begin early next summer.

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