On the cusp of explosive growth, New Orleans is currently one of the nation’s most in-demand metropolitan areas. The New Orleans metro is expected to grow 1.3 percent in 2019, placing it just behind Lake Charles and Hammond. A recently released Economic Forecast indicates that the metro will see 4,600 new jobs in 2018, followed by an additional 7,600 jobs in 2019. This job growth will be driven, in large part, by massive construction projects.
Already, major construction projects have made their mark on the city of New Orleans. Experts believe that such projects have largely made up for the crushing loss of jobs in the oil sector in recent years. The growth is just beginning, however, as many of the region’s most extensively funded construction projects have yet to commence. The following are among the most notable construction projects underway in New Orleans:
Canal Street Ferry Terminal
Traffic officials hope to break ground on a $27 million ferry terminal in September 2018, shortly following a public hearing. Assuming safe weather and water conditions, the project should take just over a year to complete. Likewise, a smaller-scale but still notable revamp of the ferry terminal at Algiers Point is expected to commence soon.
North Terminal Of The Louis Armstrong International Airport (MSY)
One of New Orleans’ largest projects, planning for the North Terminal of the Louis Armstrong International Airport, took a full six years. The expansion—which will add 35 gates—is desperately needed now that tourists are flocking to New Orleans. The $993.7 million project broke ground in early 2016, and it will likely wrap up in early 2019. Ultimately, the terminal will span 972,000 square feet and will include over 34,000 pieces of structural steel.
New Orleans World Trade Center Development
Following years of setbacks, developers have finally broken ground on a massive redevelopment of the New Orleans World Trade Center. The $460 million project will transform the tower into a Four Seasons Hotel and Residences. Experts anticipate that the project will create over 1,600 construction jobs. Once complete, the hotel will boast 336 guest rooms, 80 condominiums and 28,000 square feet of meeting space.
Although promising, the project faces several challenges. For example, the building currently lacks vertical transit, as the elevators have been unusable for years. For now, buck hoists will allow construction workers and materials to move from one floor to the next.
Children’s Hospital of New Orleans Expansion
An expansion currently underway at the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans intends to make the healthcare facility a more family-friendly place. In a recent interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, CEO John Nickens IV explained that the $300 million multi-phase renovation will target the emergency and trauma care center, while also adding a surgery center, a behavioral health center, and a cardiac neonatal care unit. The end goal is to ensure holistic care not only for all patients, but also for their families.
In addition to the construction projects highlighted above, several communities just beyond the New Orleans metro will see major development in the next year. A prime example: Yuhuang Chemical’s $1.85 billion construction project in St. James’ Parish. Likewise, Entergy recently broke ground in Montz on an $869 million power plant.
Common Issues In Major Construction Projects
New Orleans’ construction boom presents a myriad of opportunities for local contractors and subcontractors. But with high expectations and tight deadlines, conflicts are bound to arise.
The greater the scope of a construction project, the greater the potential for legal disputes. Conflicts may occur between owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and other involved parties. The following are among the most common issues regarding construction projects:
• Project Specifications. Owners and contractors (or subcontractors) may come to blows before the project even breaks ground. Documents—especially those featuring ambiguous terms or descriptions—are often interpreted differently, especially between designers and contractors. Implied warranties indicate that construction specifications are both correct and buildable. Exculpatory clauses, however, may allow owners to shift at least a portion of the responsibility to the contractor. Conflicts may arise as one party fights for the exculpatory clause’s enforcement while the other relies on the implied warranty.
• Inexcusable Delays. Unexpected circumstances often cause significant delays. Sometimes, these are excusable—poor weather conditions or natural disasters, for example. Other delays are prompted by contractor or subcontractor errors. Delays may also result from the owner’s neglect. While contractors are typically liable for inexcusable delays, their liability could be limited due to owner fault or liquidated damages provisions.
• General Damages. From low-quality materials to poor craftsmanship, a variety of issues can cause property damage. Owners may observe work that does not conform to the original specifications, but contractors may not agree with such findings. Most contracts allow for the repair of defective work. Liability insurance issues may occur due to allegations of not only breach of contract, but also negligence.
• Failure to pay. Payment issues may be resolved differently depending on whether a project is private or part of a public works effort. Contractors or subcontractors involved in private projects may issue mechanic’s liens. Others may demand arbitration or file lawsuits. With public works projects, government claims typically precede lawsuits against public entities.
No matter the scope of your New Orleans construction project, you deserve proactive representation from an attorney who understands the region’s opportunities and challenges. Look to Smiley Law for assistance. Call 504-894-9653 at your earliest convenience to schedule a case consultation.