Jazzland, a 162-acre amusement park, opened in 2000 in an effort to create jobs and bring a major tourism attraction to New Orleans East. The park was purchased by Six Flags in 2002. Hurricane Katrina devastated the amusement park in 2005 and Six Flag’s own bankruptcy complicated the park’s subsequent rebuilding. Ownership was eventually transferred to the Industrial Development Board of New Orleans. Despite a number of redevelopment proposals, the park remained abandoned.
To position the site for future redevelopment, the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) hired a team from TIP Strategies and Perkins+Will to assess the area’s strategic opportunities. Over a six-month process, the team reviewed relevant research and market data (including conditions in New Orleans East and its primary commercial corridors), conducted targeted stakeholder input, and made recommendations on a path forward to realize the highest-impact opportunity within the site and market constraints. Three different opportunities were selected for evaluation based on their role in the regional economy and ability to be resilient in the face of business cycles and natural disasters: tourism, higher education, and transportation and distribution. Based on the market context, study area conditions, and input from stakeholders, the redevelopment opportunity for Jazzland with the highest potential to promote the community goals was a combination of tourism and higher education. The idea that emerged was an “education destination” that could employ as many as 500 people (direct, indirect, and induced positions) and inject millions of dollars into the regional economy. The analysis included a brief overview of next steps. As a follow up to this work, the team was engaged to facilitate a community meeting where the study findings were presented.