Right now, it is only a proposal.
But with great fanfare, including a Dixieland band and free fried shrimp for 200 people, city officials this week unveiled a plan to create alongside the Artesia Freeway an entertainment and shopping complex with the flavor and vitality of the famous French Quarter in New Orleans.
Already named Bourbon Street by the city’s Redevelopment Agency, the complex would be located on 5.5 acres next to another redevelopment project, the 300-room Compton-Lazben hotel slated to open in December.
The Los Angeles marketing firm of Harrison-Price & Associates has been hired to help city officials lure enough private developers to fill Bourbon Street’s proposed 579,000 square feet with specialty restaurants and shops.
There will also be a theater and performance spaces for jazz, blues, rock ‘n’ roll “and all styles of music associated with New Orleans and the cultures of Compton,” according to a promotional statement circulated by city officials.
“No (redevelopment) project has the promise that Bourbon Street has in store for us,” Redevelopment Director Laurence Adams told the crowd of mostly city workers who had gathered Tuesday for a Cajun-style, city-financed $2,500-lunch at the Sizzler restaurant across the street from City Hall.
Adams said the Bourbon Street project is so large that it could provide enough tax revenue to free the city from the financial binds that often restrict its spending.
Lazben Financial Co., which is building the hotel in partnership with a company led by Naftali Deutch, has a 2-year option to develop Bourbon Street. But if Lazben--a partnership of Deutch’s two sons--fails to secure developers and financing within that period, the city will be free to bring in another firm to act as master developer of the project.
Lazben is to obtain its own financing for the project, though City Manager James Goins said the city can provide some seed money with such things as tax incentives and state economic development bonds. Deutch got a $5.5-million loan from the city this spring to finish the hotel, a $25-million project. Once the hotel opens, he has two years to repay the loan.
No Firm Estimates
There are no firm estimates on what Bourbon Street will cost to develop: Adams estimated Tuesday that it will take about $100 million and three years to build.
Though private developers will build Bourbon Street, the city owns the design, Adams said. Compton paid $28,000 to the New Orleans architectural firm of Eskew, Vogt, Salvato & Filson to come up with conceptual drawings, as well as the scale model of Bourbon Street unveiled at the luncheon.
Architect Lloyd Vogt, who attended the unveiling, said the complex has been designed as “a potpourri of different buildings. It’s not one mega-building.”
Nor is the complex to be a replica, a Disneyland, he said. Instead, his design for Bourbon Street is a collection of buildings, he said, that incorporate the elements that make the French Quarter a unique place in America.
Some of those elements include narrow pedestrian walkways and courtyards, outdoor eating areas, balconies and greenery that gives character to ordinary spaces and a host of smaller touches that can provide constant visual impact, such as ornate doorways, gas lighting, bay windows, and variously painted street signs.