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The City of New Orleans

Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu

About the Project

Situation Awareness

Over the past eight years since Hurricane Katrina, there have been numerous disasters. Areas that have never seen severe weather-related events—both in the  United States and across the globe—have been devastated. Regardless of the cause (global warming, nature, man, etc.), catastrophic events seem to be occurring with greater frequency and with greater intensity. As a consequence, governments, businesses and individuals are exploring how they can withstand, respond, adapt and recover from disasters.

The difficulty that both the private sector and the government experienced in attempting to shut down the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico further illustrates the need to be to be more visionary with respect to disaster management. This is especially true, considering how susceptible the Gulf Coast  region and the City of New Orleans are to natural and manmade disasters.

Understanding the disaster management process and responding accordingly limits liability, damage, and recovery time, costs, and efforts. Disaster management occurs in three phases: 1) preparedness, 2) response, and 3) recovery. Each phase contains a myriad of activities that must be monitored and administered to protect life and property.

The closure of the Naval Support Activity (NSA) New Orleans” East Bank” facility located on the East Bank of the Mississippi River in the heart of New Orleans, LA, presents a timely opportunity to repurpose the site for disaster management services. Redeveloping the NSA New Orleans” East Bank” facility into an International Resilience Center (IRC) would provide the foundation upon which the complexities involved in disaster preparedness and response can be managed and the externalities mitigated.

Capitalizing On Opportunities

Redevelopment of the NSA New Orleans  “East Bank” facility has been fast-tracked because it provides an ideal venue for a state-of-the-art  Disaster Management complex. The project is also poised and ready to move forward. Following the Federal guidelines for Base Realignment and Closure, the City of New Orleans, as the recognized Local Redevelopment Authority has completed the mandatory planning, research, and public participation. Transfer of the property to the City is expected to be consummated in 2013. The New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP), as well as, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) are keenly interested in moving forward because the lives and assets of the region deserve protection. Total project cost for redeveloping the site is estimated to be $242M .

The natural disaster recovery process takes years. Centralizing Federal, State and Local agencies affiliated with recovery (NOAA, LaOCPR, CDC, FEMA, SBA, EPA, DEQ, DOI, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, etc.) would streamline communications during an emergency event. As a result, there exists the potential for the aforementioned agencies to have a prolonged, if not permanent presence in New Orleans. Furthermore, the Resilience work performed at the facility (e.g., research, policy making, technology transfer, etc.) will be diverse in nature, requiring a facility such as this one, with its vast space and logistically strategic location to house a variety of industries.

The Need for a Regional Disaster Management Center

One of the valuable lessons learned during Hurricane Katrina, was the importance of maintaining reliable forms of communication and logistics coordination during disaster management. In order to avoid breakdowns similar to those experienced during Hurricane Katrina, the Federal government has expressed the need for self-sufficient, strategically located regional Disaster Management Centers (DMC) and such a center would become a strategic component of the proposed International Resilience Center (IRC). These centers need to be large enough to house the many Federal, State, and Local agencies involved in disaster management while providing storage and distribution facilities for vital supplies. Private Sector providers and Non-Profit Agencies critical to response and recovery will also be incorporated in the space.

Site Description

The NSA New Orleans  “East Bank” facility  consists of approximately 19.66 acres of land located near river mile 92.8 on the East Bank of the Mississippi River in the City of New Orleans. The topography of the site is flat, with elevations varying between zero and ten feet above the mean sea level. The site is bordered by residential housing on the west and north, the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal on the east, and the Mississippi River on the south . It is located in a 500-year floodplain.

The NSA New Orleans “East Bank” facility  is dominated by three six-story primary structures totaling 1.5M square feet of space. These buildings were constructed from 1919-1921 for use as warehouses to store essential supplies. The location was strategic for this function because of the ease of access to the site by water, rail, and roadway. The structural integrity of the buildings would be cost prohibitive to construct in today’s dollars for the support columns, floors, ceilings are all hand-poured concrete. The proposed redevelopment of the facility would modernize the site so that it will operate as originally intended— as an outpost during crisis situations.

The site also contains 1,000,000 SF of air-conditioned office space; parking for 1,800 cars at ground level and 1,100 spaces available in Building 602; gas station; diesel tanks for emergency generators; and recreational facilities including a track, two basketball courts, a tennis court, a volleyball pit, three racquetball courts, and a parade ground/recreation field.

Additionally, given the size and design of these structures, the facility could be used as temporary shelter for essential personnel and citizens not able to evacuate. The Federal  government spent millions in evacuating citizens for Gustav with no tangible asset to show for this investment. That same investment can be made in developing this center, resulting in the creation of a unique national and permanent asset.

The Resilience Industry

Economic Development Opportunity for New Orleans

Disaster Management /Resilience is a burgeoning industry, with New Orleans and the Gulf Coast evolving into epicenters of industry expertise and experience. As a consequence, a long-term strategy for cultivating this industry should be explored, with the IRC being a cornerstone of that strategy.

Apart from the necessity of having a command center for catastrophic events, this facility will serve as a catalyst for economic development. It is estimated that this project will result in the creation of 1,700 construction jobs with an average salary of $35,000/year. Additionally, it is estimated that this project will result in the creation of 2,000-3,500 permanent jobs, ranging from high-tech researchers and planners to operations and facility management personnel.

The IRC can also be used to frequently host academic and practitioner forums from around the world. The IRC should therefore increase the number of people coming to New Orleans to be educated about preparedness, managing catastrophic events, and the recovery process. Everything from procedures manuals for security, medical, transportation, housing, counseling, sanitation, communications, and emergency management (including evacuation) to recovery models can be included as part of a diverse, integrated, and comprehensive program.

Locally, the IRC will work collaboratively with the LSU Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) and will ensure efficient augmentation and collaboration rather than duplication of functions. Nationally, the IRC will collaborate with the National Disaster Resiliency Center (NDRC) at Moffett Field in California and the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in New York.

The NDRC is a support system and emergency response network for local, regional, state, and national agencies, businesses, communities and citizens. The NDRC integrates teaching, training and research while serving as a base camp for response and recovery. The Morrelly Homeland Security Center located in Bethpage, NY, has been designed to connect research and technology in the private sector and public sectors. An industry-lead Center of Innovation and Excellence has been established to link research development with both users and enabling organizations.

The tasks previously outlined will not only create jobs, but will also expand current base industries in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The training/education component creates the need for hotel/restaurant accommodations and accommodates the digital media industry. Research and technology development will also complement the skilled industries. Since the goal is to design the facility to be Platinum LEED Certified and sustainable, it would potentially create many green jobs while serving as a model for similar projects around the world. A list of potential tenants is attached.

As  previous hurricanes and tropical storms  have demonstrated, the recovery effort is a long and difficult process. Preparedness is a prerequisite to smart and resilient recovery. An emphasis on sustainability (preservation, conservation, and revitalization) has been the focus of the non-profit community since Hurricane Katrina.

There is now a national focus on sustainability, livability and safety for redevelopment and comprehensive planning nation-wide. For example, former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, (D-CT), once introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would provide funding through grants to metropolitan planning organizations to assist local governments in implementing comprehensive city planning. This IRC could be the epicenter for such instruction, policy making, and development. The IRC would also provide a tangible example of a sustainable, livable and safe development project that provides both an economic and educational boost to the community through research.

The City of New Orleans is already committed to sustainable recovery and development. The City’s GreeNola Road Map identifies short, medium, and long term goals as part of the overall strategy for a sustainable New Orleans. These goals include a wide variety of initiatives, including but not limited to: energy efficient measures; solar, wind, bio-fuels; environmental capacity building; Clean Cities Goals; and remediation and health monitoring—all of which can and should be part of the work done at this center.

“I firmly believe that progress changes consciousness, and when you change people’s consciousness, then their awareness of what is possible changes as well – a virtuous cycle.”

— President Clinton

Hazard Mitigation Opportunities

Hazard mitigation requires taking sustained action to reduce or eliminate long-term risks, and is an essential component of the preparedness, response, and recovery cycles. Hazard mitigation encompasses everything, from re-inventing how we manage our water to preserving, conserving, and revitalizing our wetlands. Therefore, hazard mitigation management, research, and policymaking should be a part of the function employed at this facility. The most recent version of the Orleans Parish hazard mitigation plan outlines the following action items:

Hazard Mitigation Action Items
Identify and pursue preventative measures to reduce losses of life properties and ecosystems. The plan outlines 32 tasks to accomplish this action item. Wetlands restoration is on the forefront more than ever, given the oil spill. This center should be the vortex for wetlands restoration research and development, policy and implementation.
Develop a culture of preparedness. Enhance public awareness and understanding of disaster preparedness in order to protect the economic infrastructure and the health and well-being of the people of Orleans Parish from the negative effect of hazards. The plan enumerates 21 tasks to accomplish this action. The implementation of this plan can be accomplished in this center.
Ensure the ability of emergency service providers and facilities, including essential facilities, to continue during hazard events. The plan enumerates 7 tasks associated with this action, all of which could be housed in this facility.

National Objectives

As part of President Obama’s Open Government Directive, 23 different federal agencies and departments came together in March 2010 to develop recommendations. Pilot programs recommended from this conference have been developed and initiated. They build on President Obama’s “bottom up” philosophy that taps citizen expertise to make government smarter and more responsive. The philosophy of “open innovation” initiated as a result of the recommendations from these federal agencies is designed to deliver tangible results in public sector and regulated sectors of the economy –IT, learning technologies—that are positioned to deliver productivity growth and grow jobs in the future. These philosophies will be incorporated into the IRC and will result in creating more cost effective, easily executed strategies for disaster preparedness, management and recovery resulting in new industries.

"History should be our guide. The United States led the world’s economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation. Today, the competition is keener; the challenge is tougher; and that is why innovation is more important than ever. It is the key to good, new jobs for the 21st century. That’s how we will ensure a high quality of life for this generation and future generations. With these investments, we’re planting the seeds of progress for our country, and good-paying, private-sector jobs for the American people."

—President Barack Obama, August 5, 2009

The following chart outlines the various components of industry which could participate in this initiative:

International Resilience Center


The mission of the International Resilience Center is to foster the capacity of individuals, communities, companies, and governments to withstand, respond, adapt, and recover from disasters.

IRC Operations

Disaster Management Operations:

  • Command Center for weather events, oil spills, large entertainment events (Mardi Gras, Super Bowl, etc.), terrorist attacks, etc.

Resilience/Disaster—Private Sector

  • Systems Development/Execution (Financial record keeping, accounting of financial sources of aide and tracking results, systems management and delivery)
  • Technology Development/Execution
  • Office space for contractors identified by local, state, and federal agencies to respond to catastrophic events
  • Logistics Development/Execution
  • Private Sector business resilience

Resilience/Disaster—Non-Profit Sector

  • Office space for agencies needed for response to catastrophic events:
  • Red Cross
  • Evacuteer
  • Homeless Service Providers
  • Logistics for Special Needs Individual
  • Research regarding better tracking for the special needs community
  • Non-Profit business resilience


  • Research and development of more efficient triage, management and tracking of injuries, identification, and management of casualties
  • Training in the above referenced areas
  • Hospital, nursing home, and assisted-living operations resilience

Disaster Safe Room

  • Housing for essential personnel
  • Establishment of communications process that will be inclusive, timely, and cost-effective

International Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Management

  • Collaboration with world-wide agencies that respond to disasters in all phases of disaster management
  • Collaboration with world-wide agencies that provide humanitarian aide
  • Creation of trade opportunities for Gulf Coast businesses focused on disaster operations, preparedness and recovery
  • Expansion of services to Mexico, Latin America, the Caribbean Basin and South America

Resilient Recovery

  • Participation in the Coastal Restoration movement
  • Participation in the Water Management Initiative
  • Management of long-term recovery efforts
  • Office space for Private Sector and Government Sector entities focused on long-term recovery

Resilience/Disaster Management Education/Training

  • Collaboration with local, regional, national and international colleges and universities
  • Office space and classroom space for on-site training of Police Departments, Fire Departments, and Emergency Management personnel
  • Creation of interactive training materials for essential and emergency personnel
  • Creation of training manuals for use by both Private Sector, Non-Profit Sector, and Governmental Sector
  • Development of disaster management plans for industry


This proposal describes the rationale for converting the NSA New Orleans “East Bank” facility into an International Resilience Center. This proposal is unique because it optimizes and integrates multiple related factors that are each high on the nation’s agenda for emergency preparedness. An International Resilience Center at the NSA site takes advantage of New Orleans’ massively strategic location:

  • In a transportation nexus of air, water, rail, and road
  • In the increasing disaster-sensitive United States hurricane corridor
  • Near the long-term disaster recovery and research activities associated with the BP Horizon oil spill
  • Near the long-term mitigation and research activities associated with restoration of the Gulf Coast
  • In a critical oil and gas-producing region that also has great untapped clean energy sources (e.g., gas, solar); and
  • In a facility that is already hardened against wind, flood and other environmental hazards.


Estimated Costs of Recommended Reuse Plan

The following estimates do not include the cost for developing residential components into the plan. These cost estimates are for discussion purposes only and may not reflect the final cost of the project.

According to the Final Environmental Condition of Property Report for NSA New Orleans (ECPR 2007), many of the buildings on the station were found to contain both Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) and Lead Based Paint (LBP).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the remediation of ACM and LBP by prescribing certain safety standards for removal and disposal of the affected material.

A thorough analysis of all buildings on station will have to be conducted so that remediation can be carried out before demolition or renovation can begin.

A preliminary estimated cost of remediation was prepared and found to be approximately $3 million. This cost is subject to change should any additional hazardous materials be identified. Remediation must occur before renovation or demolition, and could possibly delay redevelopment.

Table 1: Cost Summary presents the estimated costs of redeveloping the NSA East Bank Site. As noted, the estimated costs are based on the Reuse/Redevelopment Plan for Naval Support Activity New Orleans East Bank (September 2009). These are estimates only and should not be considered final.

Table1: Estimated Project Costs*
Item Cost
Remediation $3,000,000
Demolition and Site Prep $7,000,000
Construction and Renovation ($100/sq.ft.) $150,000,000
Transportation/Utilities/Site Development $13,700,000
Soft Costs (30% Hard Cost) $52,110,000
Contingency (5% Total Cost) $11,290,000
General Contractor Fee (3% of Total Cost) $5,211,000
Total Project Cost $242,311,500
*Costs are Estimates Based on Redevelopment Plan The project will be developed at a minimum Platinum LEED certification and will be totally sustainable. Premiums have been added to the cost estimates to accommodate these goals.

Achieving Sustainability through Environmental and Energy Efficient Design Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.

It is the goal of the City of New Orleans that the redevelopment of the NSA East Bank Site will be undertaken with sustainability in mind. An estimated 20% premium is being integrated into the original estimate in order to incorporate the energy and environmental design principles that would allow the project to achieve one of the higher levels of LEED® Certification.

The incorporation of these principles in the design will greatly reduce environmental impacts, water and energy consumption and lead to greater and quicker returns on investment for the owners.

Capital (Infrastructure) Improvements

The City of New Orleans needs to consider key capital investments to modify and improve the existing infrastructure to support the proposed Reuse Plan. Fortunately, the NSA East Bank site already has good supporting infrastructure relevant to the proposed Reuse / Redevelopment Plan. However, the site needs improvements to site access and circulation, and associated utility improvements, for successful reuse.

The key capital investments include: development of new grade-separated access over the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad tracks from St. Claude Avenue along the eastern perimeter of the site, extension of the Poland Avenue boulevard section from Dauphine to Chartres Street, development of new sewer lift station capacity, internal site circulation improvements for the extension of Dauphine to the new access road on the eastern perimeter of the site, and development of open space/park designated areas.

Table 2: Capital Improvement Plan Estimates
Capital Improvement Estimated Order of Magnitude Cost
New grade-separated access roadway from St. Claude Avenue $11 million
Extension of Poland Avenue boulevard to Chartres Street $750,000
New sewer pump station $500,000
Improved transit station $250,000
Open space/park improvements $1.2 million
Total Capital Improvement Estimates $13.7 million

This is a total of $13.7 million in estimated costs for Capital Improvements associated with the

Recommended Reuse Strategy. These are estimates only and should not be considered final.

Anticipated Sources of Funding

  • HR-645 introduced by Congressman Hastings of Florida in January 2009 would establish six (6) regional emergency operation centers across the country. City staff is collaborating with the Local Redevelopment Authority in Miami, FL to develop a strategy to move this bill forward. Homestead Air Force base is another proposed location for an emergency operations center. New Orleans is located in Region 6 and Miami in Region 5. Approval of the legislation would provide $60 million for each of the six regional centers.
  • HAZ MIT funding refers to the funding potential (not confirmed at the time of the RFP release) from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP). GOHSEP is anticipating funding through FEMA for safe havens across the state in the event of catastrophic events.
  • This project will be eligible for both state and federal historic tax credits.
  • This project is located in an area eligible for New Market Tax Credits.
  • This project is eligible for the State of Louisiana Enterprise Zone benefits.
  • This project is eligible for Restoration Tax Abatement.
  • This project is eligible for Property Assessment Clean Energy Bonds.
  • This project is eligible for Industrial Development Bonds
  • Road construction/improvements may be eligible for Department of Transportation funding.
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Last updated: 6/10/2013 3:55:47 PM

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