by Kevin Allman
Stewart Juneau, owner of the Baton Rouge-based development company LeTriomphe Property Group, was selected last November by Mayor Ray Nagin's administration to redevelop the Morris F.X. Jeff Sr. Municipal Auditorium in Armstrong Park. At the time, the proposed professional services agreement drew controversy, due to Juneau's relationship with Nagin (he had hosted the mayor's much-mocked "Excellence in Recovery Award" gala back in August 2008), as well as for the fact that LeTriomphe was the sole bidder on the project. In December, New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux slammed the deal, urging the New Orleans City Council not to approve it. In January, city attorney Penya Moses-Fields slammed right back, saying the IG's recommendation was premature and that there was "no existing contract."
This morning, Juneau announced that LeTriomphe was requesting a "temporary suspension of negotiations" on the Municipal Auditorium deal:
LeTriomphe Property Group, LLC (LTPG) announced today that it has requested a temporary suspension of negotiations on a professional services agreement for the redevelopment of the Morris X. F. [sic] Jeff, Sr. Municipal Auditorium.
LTPG remains confident that providing a landmark home for the cultural arts and creative industry in New Orleans in the damaged and unused auditorium is one of the most important projects that will be undertaken in the city in the near future.
The letter gave no reason for requesting a suspension of negotiations, but concluded on an optimistic note:
We look forward to working closely with all segments of our great community on making the mission of providing a landmark home for the cultural arts in New Orleans a reality.