Judge tosses case stalling work on WTC

NEW ORLEANS – Monday a judge threw out the litigation that stalled work on the old World Trade Center at the foot of Canal Street for more than a year.

Judge Tiffany Chase dismissed the lawsuit after no one showed up to represent Two Canal Street Investors (TCSI), the company that filed the suit in April 2015.

Two Canal said its plan should have been chosen because it offered the city the most money in lease payments. The WTC is built on land owned by the city.

The city ultimately chose Carpenter-Woodward Design + Build to redevelop the iconic 1960s riverfront office tower into a 350-room luxury Four Seasons Hotel and 76 condos.

City Attorney Rebecca Dietz called the judge’s ruling a win for the city.

“We always knew this case was frivolous, baseless and an attempt to delay a significant development project in the city,” Dietz said.

Judge Chase dismissed the case with prejudice, which means TCSI is barred from seeking future legal action on the same claim.

The judge also stated that Two Canal is a sham company.

The firm’s president Neil Fisher was not in court for Monday’s hearing. Still, Fisher told WWL-TV, he intends to appeal the judge’s dismissal.

“Judge Tiffany Chase is corrupt and a judicial investigation will point to that and I will be vindicated from those vial statements,” Fisher said.

New Orleans business leaders have been pushing for construction to begin on the World Trade Center’s $360 million renovation.

The Four Seasons project is expected to generate more than 1600 construction jobs and 450 permanent positions.

“Practically, the building is going to employ hundreds of New Orleanians and bring in millions in tax revenue,” said GNO. Inc. CEO Michael Hecht. “But, symbolically, it’s going to show that New Orleans is vibrant, that New Orleans is world-class.”

Canal now has until December 1, to appeal the dismissal.

“All the evidence points to a conspiracy, a cover-up on the bid rigging to get the Four Season’s in and the other four finalists out,” Fisher said.

“This procurement was one of the best the city has ever seen,” Dietz said. “We should be proud of it. We should replicate it. It was open, fair, transparent, competitive.”

The city still hopes the WTC project will be completed and the Four Seasons Hotel open in time for the New Orleans’ Tricentennial in 2018.

The Four Season’s development released this statement: “The Four Seasons team is pleased with the court’s judgment which dismissed this frivolous litigation. When the judgment is final we look forward to immediately moving ahead with this important job creation and tax generating project.”

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