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How should New Orleans develop land near future Convention Center hotel? Board asks for ideas

New Orleans tourism officials’ plans for a massive entertainment district on empty land upriver from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center are back on the table.

The Convention Center’s board, which finally won approval in June to build a 1,200-room hotel on part of the land after lengthy political wrangling, has asked interested firms to submit ideas by Oct. 4 for how to develop the 20 acres adjacent to the hotel site.

In its request for new master plan proposals, the Convention Center said it “expects the development to be reflective of the unique culture and history of New Orleans and include elements not commonly found in other parts of the nation.”

Michael Sawaya, the center’s president and general manager, said the initial phase will be “a beauty contest” to determine which firms are qualified and offer the right kind of vision to make a short list.

The project to transform the Convention Center’s undeveloped 47 upriver acres — which lie between the Pontchartrain Expressway and the former Market Street power plant — into a hotel and mixed residential, retail and entertainment district has been under discussion since 2012 but has hit a number of snags over the years.

The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is looking for ideas to develop a large portion of this 47-acre area for an “entertainment district” adjacent to

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