by Andrea Doyle | April 18, 2019

New Orleans has always been a favorite convention city. According to MeetingSource, a site selection search engine, the city ranks third in the country as a top convention city for 2019. The Crescent City's appeal as a convention destination is sure to increase with two new developments happening this year. 

The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the sixth largest convention center in the nation, is in the midst of a $65 million transformation of Convention Center Boulevard, stretching from Poydras Street upriver to Henderson Street, slated to be complete at the end of this year. The project will connect the expansive Warehouse/Arts District with the Central Business District and historic French Quarter and will include a tree-lined pedestrian promenade, covered terraces, outdoor event spaces, interactive water features, green walls, shaded communal gathering areas and public art. 


These improvements are part of a $557 million five-year modernization plan that includes reimagined meeting rooms and public spaces. Negotiations are also underway to develop a 1,200-room headquarters hotel connected to the center. 


In other news, the popularity of the National WWII Museum has resulted in the need of a conference center and hotel and the Higgins Hotel & Conference Center, currently under construction, will fill that need. Slated to open this year, the hotel will have 230 rooms and will operate as part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. 


"We fundamentally believe that a dedicated space to host educational programs for students, teachers, enthusiasts, corporate groups, reunion groups and military is a core component of what we should have here at the museum," says Stephen J. Watson, president & CEO of the museum. "When we looked at our last undeveloped piece of land, we wanted to ensure that we created a property that would economically support the museum's educational mission, while also enhancing our visitor experience. When you pair that with our increasing visitation, a hotel and conference center is a natural choice." 


The first Curio Collection hotel in Louisiana, the property features a second-floor conference center with more than 18,000 square feet of meeting space, including a boardroom and five meeting rooms bearing names related to the content and themes of World War II. The cost of The Higgins Hotel & Conference Center is $66.5 million, which includes the appraised value of the land, and hotel profits will be distributed to the museum to build its endowment and educational mission.