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Time to talk about the next big project

27 May

It’s Memorial Day weekend, so I think it’s fitting to let people in on what maybe my next big project. It’s fitting for a lot of reasons. In my usual style, this is an informal post.

A woman who could be my soul sister (Tonya) was a reader of this blog. She contacted me about doing another theme park in New Orleans. Here’s the story. This park was at one time a Six Flags theme park. It was completely devastated by Hurricane Katrina and never reopened. Six Flags cannibalized the property and took all the rides that were still in usable condition off of the property. The city of New Orleans owns the land on which this devastation now sits.

Before the park was a Six Flags park, it was called Jazzland. Tonya owns the rights to Jazzland.

If you’ve read my blog through the years then you know a few facts about me. In my 20s I worked at Florida International University from 1990-1995. I took a graduate course there where I wrote a 25 page paper planning a museum dedicated to the history of The Blues beginning with Robert Johnson. I worked for F.I.U. when Hurricane Andrew hit. After the hurricane, Mitch Madique, myself and some staff members at F.I.U. worked to bring the National Hurricane center to be built on F.I.U.’s campus (which is where it is today).

Many years later, I would become the Kickass Web Mistress of Hard Rock and build a theme park. I was a creative person with technical chops and design experience. Then years later, on my own I wrote an entire business plan, lined up acquiring the land, forming the partnerships, designing all the creative and the park map for a new park in Florida directly off of I95. My overseas investors were ready to put in almost a billion dollars for the project. And I decided to pause for year and do another project first. This project had a park, water park, campground and hotel accommodations.

I also worked for 4 years with someone who flipped properties, so I am familiar with distressed properties and their expense and design problems they can bring..

And as you may know, my stepfather of 35 years died recently and his last request was that a memorial Jazz concert be held in his memory.

So when someone on the Internet is looking for a theme park designer, business woman, has connections to money, understands a category five hurricane, and has an appreciation for music history it was a logical step to contact me. Our discussions are for me to design a park that investors will fund and then serve as the Chief Creative Officer of the park. And rather than flipping a house – we’ll be flipping a theme park in order to bring it’s value back.

Our next steps will be (next week) to 1) agree on money 2) make arrangements for me to go to New Orleans and walk the property and shoot the initial photos. This will be a challenge because there’s about 10 million dollars worth of pilings in the ground that will not match up to new ride footprints. It has damaged structures, etc. This becomes a big jigsaw puzzle for me when I have to plan creative and ride footprints and the cost of rehabbing this property. After I walk the property, I have to run the numbers and feel like this project is a “go.”  One of the most difficult things we have to do is to convince the Mayor of New Orleans to give me signed letter of intent to sell the property. My overseas investors will not fork over large sums of money unless that property can be sold to me. And let me say this – just because they wanted the new park I planned in Florida does not mean they will automatically want to fund a park in New Orleans. I will have to do a rock solid job with the research, the business plan, the creative and how to solve the engineering issues.

I have a really good background in business and creative but most people do not have both sides. This kind of project takes both.

For people who don’t know the history, I worked for the CEO and Chief Creative Officer in building Hard Rock Park. I would never have put the project in Myrtle Beach. Jon (our Chief Creative Officer) owned the land and that’s why the park went into that location. Myrtle Beach is not a community that is large enough to support a park. I think my overseas investors clearly understood that I have better business sense when they read through my plan, map, proposal and property records last year.

I’ll have to put something forward that is just as solid as that plan.

I think it is worth looking and worth considering since Six Flags had a park on that property that was making money prior to Katrina. But in my style of a business plan, it will not be just a park. There will be accommodations and other revenue streams to accompany that project.

I love the idea of creating something that culturally tells the stories of the musicians that create a genre. I love the idea of having things that are encompass a wide array – inspiring, soulful, classy and elegant, passionate and authentic. I love the idea of helping a community that has been through a category five hurricane.

I am giving a heads up on Memorial Day that this might be my next project. There are the memories of the musicians and a great city and memories of a family member who loved Jazz that obviously inspire me to want to do this project. Hard Rock Park was a piece of my soul that will always hold a special place in my heart. When Tonya called me I did think, “Rather than just a concert, maybe I will be able to do a whole park..”

I talked with Tonya for 4 hours. I was truly excited by the possibility of working with her to consider this project. We had so many similarities and I think we are both excited to work with each other.

I am still on my “vacation” with my mother visiting. This weekend we are going to the Keys to an coral reef that has a statue of Jesus underwater. That’s how we are spending Memorial Day.

But this project has been spinning in my head all week and I am looking forward to talking to Tonya about it again on Tuesday.

I think our biggest most immediate challenge will be the Mayor of New Orleans. I think he really needs to meet and talk with me and understand my past work and what this could mean for New Orleans. I need to explain how the process usually works and why I of all people would be the perfect person to to Jazzland. And I guarantee it will not be “just a park.” And I know that this will be difficult with the Mayor because I had heard that Legoland and Nickelodeon had also tried to get the land and it never happened.

So it’s a lot of hurdles, lot of obstacles, big puzzle, big challenge and right up my alley.

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