NEW ORLEANS – The office of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is pleased that the state legislature passed onto the governor legislation aimed at preventing the type of litigation that now embroils the city's former World Trade Center, a spokesman said.
"We are pleased that the Louisiana State Legislature gave final approval to S.B. 447 which intends to clarify the process for public benefit corporations to select a developer," C. Hayne Rainey, Landrieu's press secretary, said in an email to the Louisiana Record. "As we have stated previously, this legislation has implications beyond just the redevelopment of the former World Trade Center property."
S.B. 447, in its original form, was specific to the city of New Orleans' public property development process and could have cost developer Two Canal Street Investors tens of millions of dollars to maintain its lawsuits over the World Trade Center project. The bill that passed the legislature last weekend was modified in the House to remove that provision and to make other changes.
"When a losing bidder files multiple baseless lawsuits to disrupt redevelopment of public property, the public’s best interests must be protected," Rainey said. "It is important that when public procurements take place, redevelopment of public property not be handcuffed by baseless lawsuits."
The bill that passed also creates narrow time limits for appealing and challenging a bidding process in situations similar to New Orleans' attempt to redevelop the World Trade Center. Those time limits include how quickly such challenges would have to be tried, judgments rendered and appeals court decisions handed down.
On Friday, June 3, the bill unanimously passed the Louisiana House and then the Senate Sunday, June 5.
On Monday, the newly passed legislation was enrolled and then signed by Senate President John A. Alario Jr. (R-Westwego) and House Speaker Taylor Barras (R- New Iberia) before being officially sent to the governor.
Gov. John Bel Edwards' office did not respond to Louisiana Record questions, including whether he will sign the bill. S.B. 447 is not included on the published long list of legislation the governor signed into law on Tuesday.
The state legislature's passage of the bill follows in the wake of Two Canal Street Investors' two lawsuits over the World Trade Center's development, both filed in Orleans Civil District Court. The older of the two lawsuits is against the city and New Orleans Building Corp. while the second lawsuit names members of the real estate consulting team that advised the city in that process.
New Orleans Davillier Law Group, which represents Two Canal Street Investors, has not responded to Louisiana Record requests for comment since S.B. 447 passed the state legislature.
Two Canal Street Investors filed two lawsuits challenging the bidding process to redeveloped of the former World Trade Center. The development of New Orleans' 33-story former World Trade Center, located on the riverfront, was leased last year to the development team led by Carpenter & Co. of Massachusetts and Woodward Interests of New Orleans.
The older of the two lawsuits against the city and New Orleans Building Corp is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 24.