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Blake Pontchartrain: What's the story behind the Market Street power plant?

Gambit Weekly

Hey Blake,

Can you tell me the history of the massive vacant building on Tchoupitoulas Street near Mardi Gras World? It looks like it could have been a power plant at one point.


Dear Paul,

That huge riverfront building, with its towering twin smoke stacks and industrial brick facade, is the former Market Street power plant. It generated electricity for New Orleans for more than 65 years.

It was billed as "the largest electrical generating plant in the South" in a Times-Picayune article when it opened in 1905. The plant was built by the New Orleans Railways Company, which later merged and reorganized into the city's utility company, New Orleans Public Service Inc. Commonly known as NOPSI, it was the predecessor to Entergy New Orleans.

The Market Street power plant remained in service until 1973. It has been vacant since then, with plans for its redevelopment fizzling over the years. According to The Times-Picayune, in 2006 Entergy sold the property for $10 million to a company that planned a hotel, condominiums, retail stores and entertainment venues for the site.

That group went bankrupt, and in 2015, developer Joe Jaeger's MCC Real Estate Group paid more than $8 million for the plant and its 20-acre site. Redevelopment plans for the site have stalled since then.

Despite - or more likely because of - its derelict condition, the graffiti-covered plant has been used as a setting for several films, including "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and "Oblivion."


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