New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has signed off on a deal that he says will reopen the Saenger Theatre within two years. Plans to reopen the Canal Street landmark seem to have cleared hurdles that have delayed the project.
Mayor Landrieu assembled members in his office of the public-private partnership that he says is putting the Saenger Theatre project back in action.
"This is a $51 million package. All of the money is in place. All of the financing is in place. And I'm told the construction is going to begin full-bore as we speak, and the intended completion date is May of 2013."
The Italian baroque theater was closed for renovations when it flooded after Hurricane Katrina. Former Mayor Ray Nagin held a lighting ceremony in 2009, with the marquis promising a 2011 reopening. Landrieu says the complicated deal involving tax credits got bogged down locally and in Congress, but the Canal Street Development Corporation and ACE Theatrical Group got plans moving again. He says the Saenger is a key piece to revitalizing that end of Canal Street, which is marking the reopening of the Joy Theater across the street. Landrieu says the Saenger reopening will coincide with a new streetcar line and the new Iberville housing development.
"You see a lot of development spurring other development. What's beginning to happen in this city is the private investment market is starting to regain tremendous confidence in the city of New Orleans. All of the statistics relating to economic development in the city of New Orleans are up."
The 1927 theater is now in the National Register of Historic Places.