NEW ORLEANS – Despite the call by
10 current and former World Trade Center of New Orleans executives to
expedite redevelopment of the riverfront property, a Florida
businessman's litigation continues to block the work.
Beuerman, a spokesperson for winning bidder Carpenter -Woodward, told the Louisiana Record that the potential
legal timeline for work to begin indicates the earliest that could
happen would be early spring. The site itself remains ripe for the
work, he said.
"The weather is no real issue,
and the overall condition of the building remains the same,"
Beuerman said. "We are exploring options for what kind of site
prep we might be able to undertake, but nothing is certain or has
Nothing can be certain or decided until
litigation being pursued by Stuart "Neil" Fisher, president
of Two Canal Street Investors and losing bidder for the job to
renovate and revitalize the Center, is itself decided.
did not own TCSI during the bidding process, but reportedly later
acquired the company for $10, according to an April 2016 Times-Picayune article. Litigation now is well into its second year.
was a no-show at the Nov. 21 hearing before Orleans Civil District
Court Judge Tiffany Chase, who
subsequently dismissed the case. Fisher, who has not responded to several Louisiana Record requests for comment, was quoted in
Orleans Advocate saying he didn't appear for the hearing
because he had not yet retained counsel to replace the law firm that
withdrew from his case in October.
Fisher now is being
represented by Varadi,
Hair & Checki in New Orleans.
is going to be long and protracted," Fisher was quoted in the
New Orleans Advocate article.
Fisher's latest appeal
will be especially difficult for Fisher's newly hired attorneys
because Chase dismissed the case with prejudice. That means Fisher
cannot revive his specific allegation in the now 18-month old case.
Instead, Fisher can only challenge the dismissal itself.
appeal, which may be heard as soon as Jan. 20, was filed after the
Center's current and former executives on Dec. 20 issued a call for
expedited progress in the redevelopment. The board and nine former
chairs of the 1,000-member organization, which had supported the
proposal submitted by TCSI under its previous ownership, say they
want Fisher's litigation to stop and to allow the $400 million
project to move forward.
"This is not a decision we have
entered into lightly or without careful consideration of the facts,"
Edward T. Hayes, the organization's chair, said in the executives'
statement emailed to the Louisiana Record. "Unanimously,
our Board and former Chairs have concluded that additional delays to
the development of the Four Seasons New Orleans are counterproductive
to the economic advancement of our city and state, and
counter-intuitive to the World Trade Center's mission of creating
wealth and economic opportunity for the people of New Orleans and
The delays should end, Hayes said.
"The time has come to put these
costly delays behind us, and to put hundreds of local tradesmen and
women to work on bringing this landmark building back into meaningful
commerce," he said. "The proposal and development team our
organization originally supported no longer exists in any credible
form or fashion. Therefore we have no hesitation about embracing the
expedited redevelopment of the building, and the expedited delivery
of jobs for our people and tax revenues for our city."
and the current board were joined by former WTCNO Chairs David
Kearney, Ronnie Kole, Charles Nelson, Patricia Denechaud, J. Dwight
LeBlanc Jr., Dennis Kelly, Constance Willems, Frank Stewart and Jean
Beuerman said the organization's statement is very
"It reflects a strongly worded
defection from the initial TCSI proposal and a repudiation of their
tactics of delay, delay, delay," he said. "That 10 of our
city's leading citizens in business, law, shipping and tourism should
step out front and say 'enough is enough' while vacating the
organization's previous engagement with TCSI demonstrates just how
important this project is to the city, state and economy."
Despite that, Beuerman demonstrated in a potential legal
timeline that it will be early spring, at the earliest, before the
wishes of the WTCNO executives can be fulfilled. After hearing
Fisher's latest appeal, the appeals court will have well into
February to issue its ruling. Parties then have about two weeks for
further filings with that court and another month to apply to the
Louisiana Supreme Court. If litigation were to end there -- and no
one is commenting about whether it will -- then it could be late
March before the litigation ends and World Trade redevelopment may