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Press Release

Hyatt-Superdome Area to Be Redeveloped Into New Hyatt Jazz District; Finished Site to Generate More Than 6,500 Permanent Jobs
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  • Jazz heritage to fuel cultural revitalization and economic growth with creation of a world-class National Jazz Center as part of 20-acre park
  • Jazz Park to create a major urban oasis amidst medical center, business, city buildings and Superdome
  • Devastated Hyatt Regency New Orleans to reopen as world-class hotel and meeting site
  • Master Plan calls for new courts and city hall

NEW ORLEANS, May 30 – Governor Kathleen Blanco, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and the Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board today announced plans to create a 20-acre performance arts park that is to be anchored by a new National Jazz Center. The plans were created by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Thom Mayne, and his firm, Morphosis, and also call for an outdoor auditorium, new city government buildings, a new civil courts building and major redevelopment of the Hyatt Regency site.

Laurence Geller, chief executive officer of Strategic Hotels & Resorts, the Hyatt Regency's owner, said the plans were created in consultation with an advisory board of leading New Orleans and international experts from fields including architecture and planning, the arts, economics and hospitality. Strategic Hotels & Resorts funded the Advisory Board's work.

Several buildings will be relocated to create a great lawn that stretches six city blocks, creating an open-air Jazz Park.

“The advisory board has created a bold plan that transforms the Hyatt area into a world-class urban area and destination. Rather than an under-utilized adjunct of disparate sports, hotel and city facilities, the Hyatt Jazz District will be a grand destination that provides the citizenry with an unmatched urban cultural experience,” said Geller.

“We are especially grateful to both Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin for their vision and leadership. In fact, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Nagin met with us to discuss the rebirth of this ravished area of the city and to consider the opportunity for a new City government complex. Today's announcement takes that vision to the next step. We thank both the Governor and the Mayor for their support of this unique public and private partnership," Geller said.

The National Jazz Center will reside in an iconic building designed by Thom Mayne. It will house the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO) as well as performance space, studios, classrooms, a library and offices.

“The plans and studies that we have done to date will be the generative material for this complex and important project,” said Thom Mayne. “It is now that our work will begin in earnest – to engage and collaborate with the community and with the project's stakeholders to further refine our initial concepts in order to most effectively and sensitively begin to rebuild this key part of the great city of New Orleans.”

“The new Hyatt Jazz District is a transformative project that will change the very nature of New Orleans for the better, much as the Superdome did a little more than 30 years ago,” said Wm. Raymond Manning, the lead local architect in planning and design of the district. “Unlike one iconic building, however, the planned Hyatt Jazz District will integrate our civic infrastructure of courts and city hall with a major tourist destination and park that will link to other areas of the City, including the Quarter, Convention Center and Riverfront,” Manning said.

According to Irvin Mayfield, artistic director of NOJO, “The new National Jazz Center and Park will be the catalyst that stimulates the revitalization of the New Orleans economy rightfully centered around jazz, our most abundant natural resource. This will be the finest structure for jazz in the world.”

“The new National Jazz Center can be a focal point for rebuilding our talent pool of jazz musicians as well as other artists, cultural troupes and entrepreneurs that the Cultural Committee of the Mayor's Bring New Orleans Back Commission found to be a critical component of rebuilding the City,” said Wynton Marsalis, noted jazz musician and co-chairman of the Cultural Committee of the Commission. “This project will complement and enhance New Orleans' vibrant Jazz culture.”

The Hyatt Regency New Orleans will be significantly altered and improved to accommodate the Jazz Center. The Hyatt was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but its superstructure remained relatively intact. The Hyatt entranceway will be relocated to the east side of the building, new ballroom space will be built, and a new rooftop restaurant will be added. The whole interior of the Hyatt will be made over and updated.

Estimated costs for the National Jazz Center and Jazz Park are estimated at $716 million and are expected to generate more than $6 billion in economic benefits over 20 years. An economic study commissioned by the Board and conducted by Dr. William Oakland of Tulane University and Dr. Wade Ragas of the University of New Orleans estimates that the plan will generate almost 14,000 man years of construction work and create more than 6,500 permanent jobs.

The National Jazz Center and Park

The core concept of the proposed Hyatt Jazz District plan is to integrate, improve and utilize existing architecture and infrastructure into a design that creates for the first time a world-class National Jazz Center and park.

Creation of a National Jazz Center and park will transform the Hyatt area into a year-round destination for tourists and people who work in the area. For the first time, America's truly unique and original art form will have a permanent home in New Orleans, with facilities that will spur a rebirth of world-class jazz not far from Louis Armstrong's childhood neighborhood. It will also be a center where Jazz can be seriously celebrated, studied, recorded and fostered for future generations.

The park will start at the foot of the National Jazz Center and extend north across green space six blocks to a new, public outdoor amphitheater. Throughout the park interactive art, gardens and fountains reflecting the culture of New Orleans and the South will create an oasis for visitors and their families.

A dynamic bridge will link the Superdome to the great park, unifying major elements of the area into one grand destination.

Archaic city government facilities and civil courts will move into state-of-the-art facilities and a new court building. These new facilities will be able to protect and preserve legal records dating back to 1756. By refurbishing and occupying buildings that were underutilized before Katrina, the city and parish would be able to “right size” and modernize operations at a low cost. Plans are for the old buildings, along with the shopping center, to be razed to make room for the park and National Jazz Center building.

Transportation infrastructure improvements in the advanced planning stages could be modified to accommodate this world-class destination. A loop bus and streetcar linking the Hyatt Jazz District to surrounding business is part of the plan.

Prior to Katrina, the largest office complex in Louisiana surrounded the Hyatt-Superdome District site. Many of its inhabitants have been exploring ways to downsize or leave the city entirely. By creating a world-class destination at their doorway, firms will be enticed to stay, and other businesses will be drawn to the area.

Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board

Before Katrina had dissipated over the United States, Laurence Geller and his leadership team were assessing the damage to the Hyatt Regency New Orleans and formulating plans to rebuild.

Through direct consultation with Hyatt Corporation, The Superdome, the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana, Strategic Hotels & Resorts facilitated the formation of a Hyatt District Rebirth Advisory Board to evaluate alternatives and make recommendations for the site.

Strategic Hotels & Resorts spent more than $2 million to create the advisory board and fund the planning.

The Advisory Board is composed of leaders in Architecture, Urban Planning, Real Estate, Economics, Business and the Arts from New Orleans and worldwide.

Laurence Geller, Chairman
President and Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Hotels & Resorts

Douglas Geoga
President, Global Hyatt Corporation

Keith Hobbs
CEO, United Designers Europe LTD

Wm. Raymond Manning Architects

Wynton Marsalis
Musician & Composer

Irvin Mayfield
Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra

Thom Mayne

William H. Oakland
Professor Emeritus, Tulane University <./p>

J. Kevin Poorman
Pritzker Realty

Wade R. Ragas, Phd, MAI
Real Property Associates Inc

The creation of a major new park is expected to make the District a draw for world travelers, much as Central Park in New York (built in the late 18th century) and Grant Park in Chicago (built in the early 20th century) and its new component, Millennium Park (opened in 2004) have done. This attraction will also draw businesses and dissuade businesses from leaving. In addition, restaurants, retail shops and other businesses are expected to locate adjacent to the park just as has happened in other major cities.

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