FEMA has greenlighted the $24.5 million construction of a championship golf course at the park after requiring an archaeological analysis of the property in search of Native American artifacts. Rees Jones Inc., Torre Design Consortium and the PGA Tour course design team have mapped out the course, and the state hopes to begin construction in November following a two- to three-month bidding process.
Construction of the $24.5 million championship golf course at New Orleans City Park could begin before the end of the year, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.
City Park CEO Bob Becker said FEMA has green-lighted the project after requiring an archaeological analysis of the property to see if there were any Native American artifacts. The state is fairly confident it can be bid out at the end of August with construction possibly starting as early as November, the Times-Picayune reported.
If the project begins then, the course would likely open in either the early part of 2015 or the latter part of the year, depending on when the grass can be planted for the growing season in 2014, the Times-Picayune reported.
“It appears as though its coming to a good conclusion,’’ Becker said. “It’s hard to say exactly on the timing. The bid process usually takes about two to three months. So (November) would be the earliest. We’re hoping (construction) will start before the end of the year.’’
The only possible hiccup is FEMA’s review of the total value of the damage claims made by City Park for the East and West courses had not yet been completed. FEMA pegged the claim at $6.1 million. Becker hopes the figure will be raised from 10 to 30 percent, the Times-Picayune reported.
But the primary hurdle to the project being on hold has been cleared. Course construction seemed to be ready to bid out last February, but FEMA decided to order the archeological analysis, which has concluded. Archeologists under contract to FEMA discovered American Indian pottery shards, animal bones and pieces of clay tobacco pipes near Bayou St. John in New Orleans last year, the Times-Picayune reported.
City Park officials hoped the project could have been started earlier. In November of last year, City Park announced that it had reached an agreement with the Bayou District Foundation to run the course. They had hoped the course would be opened in 2014, but that was before the FEMA delay, the Times-Picayune reported.
Several pieces of the project are already in place, though no dirt has been turned. The design of the course, which was $300,000 of the $24.5 million and was paid for by the Bayou District Foundation, has already been completed. Rees Jones Inc., and Torre Design Consortium worked along with the PGA Tour course design team to map out the course, which will be built on 250 acres of the old East and West courses, the Times-Picayune reported.
The course could potentially host the PGA Tour’s annual stop in New Orleans, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. TPC Louisiana in Avondale is contracted to hold the Zurich through 2016. Zurich re-upped as title sponsor of the New Orleans event through 2019 in April, the Times-Picayune reported.
In addition to managing the course, the Bayou District Foundation—a nonprofit group that joined in the redevelopment of the St. Bernard public-housing complex—also will chip in $8.9 million in private money to build it, the Times-Picayune reported.
City Park will pay $15.5 million for the project and will use FEMA reimbursements and money from the state capital outlay program to fund its portion of the course, the Times-Picayune reported.
City Park and the Bayou District Foundation agreed to a 35-year contract last November for course management. City Park will receive 75 percent of the first $1.15 million in revenues each year with the Bayou District getting 25 percent. After that number is reached, City Park will get 55 percent of revenues and the Bayou District 45 percent per year, the Times-Picayune reported.
The park projects to get as much as $3 million in revenue from the new golf course, the North course and driving range, which opened in 2009, about five years after completion of the new facility, the Times-Picayune reported.
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