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Company behind proposed redevelopment of Six Flags fail to post $500,000 by deadline

By Ed Anderson

October 28, 2009, 6:27AM


Officials of a Louisiana company partnering with the Nickelodeon TV network to re-develop the abandoned Six Flags amusement park in eastern New Orleans asked the State Bond Commission on Tuesday to withdraw its request for $100 million in Hurricane Katrina business development bonds after they failed to post $500,000 with the state treasury by Monday's deadline.


Chris Granger / The Times-PicayuneNickelodeon and Southern Star Amusement say they need more time to come up with the cash needed to apply for GO Zone bonds to revitalize the old Six Flags site, pictured here in August.However, Dan Kyle, the new chief financial officer of Southern Star Amusement Co., said that the developers will return to the November commission meeting and will have the money needed. Under commission rules, an applicant for a Gulf Opportunity Zone bond must post .5 percent of the amount of the GO Zone bonds sought to "show good faith," commission Director Whit Kling said.


In this case, he said, developers had until Monday evening to post the refundable $500,000 in escrow but failed to do so.


"We didn't have everything in a row," Kyle said. The company will be back at the Nov. 18 meeting ready to seek approval, he said.


The Industrial Development Board of the city of New Orleans is seeking $100 million for the amusement park project in the form of Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds, a limited edition bond approved by Congress as a way to make cheap money available to developers to help stimulate the business climate in areas hit hard by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008.


The board, the city agency that acts as the park's landlord, voted weeks ago to end its lease agreement Six Flags, the park's operator from 2002 to 2005. The company filed for bankruptcy in June, listing $2.4 million in debts.


"We are very optimistic this thing can be done," Kyle said.


Bond Commission analyst Cassie Berthelot said that the project -- if it goes forward -- is expected to create about 1,650 temporary construction jobs and about 735 permanent ones. Department of Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said the average payroll would be about $30 million with the average salary being $23,343.


Moret said the proposal meets the state's "target industry" guidelines for use of the GO Zone bond money.


As proposed, Nickelodeon would lend its name, marketing strength and cache to the park through a licensing agreement with Southern Star. The company is not making any financial commitments to the park now.


State Treasurer John Kennedy said after the meeting that if Nickelodeon, a division of media giant Viacom, "steps up to the plate (with finances), it may have a greater impact" in winning the $100 million in bonds.


House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, said he would like to see the project done to give eastern New Orleans a shot in the arm. "It's grand on its face, like the Trump Towers," he said, referring to a commitment by developer Donald Trump to invest in New Orleans after the hurricane, a project that remains on the drawing boards.


In an Aug. 13 letter supporting the $100 million request, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said the proposal "will return the dormant Six Flags site to commerce and create an entertainment destination in one of the city's most devastated areas. .¤.¤. There is no doubt that a project like this would revitalize a site that has been vacant since Hurricane Katrina and will create many more new permanent jobs in the private sector in an area of the city that could use another major development.


"This is a key project to continue stimulating the city's recovery in eastern New Orleans."


Despite the withdrawal of the project Tuesday, Nagin spokeswoman Ceeon Quiett said the city "remains committed to the Nickelodeon project. That has not changed."


Southern Star attorney Stephen Juge said in a statement that the company is "fully committed to bringing the Nickelodeon park to New Orleans."

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I am sick of dealing with all the drama having to do with this property. I really am tired of the whole thing...it plays out like a bad soap opera!


I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (1 hr from Jazzland/SFNO) and I was a huge supporter of the park before Katrina...but its time to move on...there are some places that you just dont build amusement parks. People forget that SFNO was struggling with attendance leading up to Katrina. New Orleans is just one of those cities...an amusement park has too many other cultural attractions to compete with in a city like this.


Im sorry if I offend anyone, but that is my local perspective...trust me, I wish it were not the case...I wish New Orleans had a park that would rival regional parks (SFOG, Carowinds, Dollywood, etc...) but it just isnt going to happen

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In my honest opinion I hoped the place could be saved, but have remained in an optimistic yet pessimistic (if that makes any sense) state of mind about the future of this park. I'm surprised SSA has taken this as far as they have, and honestly the fact they were a no show for the hearing tells me that they really never had it together in the first place. I know I am preaching to the choir, but anyone that knows anything about eastern New Orleans knows that. Jazzland/Six Flags/ whatever else would never survive. Had the origional park been built closer to the city, in Metairie, or even on the west bank there would have been more hope assuming the same events took place during Katrina.


Viacom/Nickelodeon is not going to shovel any amount of money for this project, all they are here for is to make money from SSA. If Viacom/Nickelodeon were to stick thier necks out on the line the bond commission would not have such a difficult time approving the GO Zone bonds.


The only reason we continue to hear about the future of this site is the fact that New Orleans is still on the hook until 2017 for the HUD loans taken out to build this park in the first place. Thankfully Six Flags finally got out of the lease and was able to pay less ($3mill) than what they had offered the City of New Orleans in 2006 ($10mill plus additional insurance money) to back out of the lease.


I really think that the future of the Jazzland/Six Flags site is and was a lost cause. Personally I'm not offended by anything anyone says in favor or against the park. I never visited, I always went to Astroworld instead. The Gulf coast lost 2 parks in 2005 one to a natural disaster, and the other to corporate mis-management. Thank goodness Six Flags has a much better management team running things. (which of course is my opinion.)


I'll stop ranting now. lol

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^ I couldnt agree more with your observations of the location of the park...and SSA not showing up for the hearing!


Its a shame you never made it out to Jazzland/SFNO because the park def had some winners with CCI's MegaZeph and the custom Jocco's dark ride.


I loved the MegaZeph's low, fast turnaround by the lake


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  • 2 weeks later...
The city subsequently asked the company for a list of their investors and for financial statements, none of which was produced, Quiett said.


Gee, I wonder why they couldn't give any of that information to the city?

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Nothing needs to be done. New Orleans is a wonderful town but if Jazzland couldn't survive, then Six Flags New Orleans (if the park could have made profit, it would have been rebuilt already) why even try. Put in some sports fields, those will get more use then a theme park. Tourism seemed strong in the French Quarter, but it was quite a few people just exploring and drinking. I went to see the architecture and just explore the quarter when I was in it. And then there was the people exploring some flood destroyed areas. There was a few people talking pictures in the lower 9th ward.


Danny Rogers is a dreamer, a dreamer who gets media attention.

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Is Mega Zeph still standing, and is it salvageable? That would be a nice coaster for a park (not necessarily a Six Flags park) to pick up if it can be saved.




If I remember correctly, the Gravity Group went out and evaluated the coaster a while back and said they could salvage it.

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If there is any chance to salvage it they def should...I thought this was a very underrated woodie...It has an interesting and custom layout with nice pops of airtime


People I talked to who visited the park were always pleasantly surprised by this coaster...it would be GREAT to ride again somewhere in the future

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Now SSA wants to buy the land straight out.




Southern Star Amusement Inc. is making an offer of $12.5 million to purchase the former Jazzland/Six Flags site from the City of New Orleans. This offer is for the entire 226 acre site, complete with all improvements and the additional acreage being obtained from Six Flags.


This offer, when combined with the $3 million the city will receive from the Six Flags settlement, should satisfy the existing HUD loan debt. With the upcoming budget shortfall the city is now facing. We feel that it is better for the city and its citizens to use their revenues to support both the police and fire services, rather than continuing to service this debt on a non performing property.


All the power to them. I will try to visit if they ever open because it won't be open for long.

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