$30M to Finish Guste Homes; New Fire Department Building in Jefferson Parish
- May 19, 2012
By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor
Officials recently approved $30 million in state bonds to finalize the redevelopment of the Guste Homes public housing complex in New Orleans’ Central City.
According to a report by The Times-Picayune, the third and final stage of Guste Homes, a project of the Housing Authority of New Orleans, has a price tag of $43 million. That breaks down to roughly $186,000 per apartment unit.
The project at 1301 Simon Bolivar Ave. will replace a still-standing blighted and vacant structure with 155 apartments distributed across two-, three- and six-unit buildings. It will house exclusively low-income residents.
Controversy has surrounded the project for some time now, with some officials and locals claiming costs are too high, especially for public housing units. According to The Times-Picayune, officials admitted that costs are indeed higher at Guste Homes than at other public housing projects, but said it is due to amenities at the complex. The complex features amenities other projects don’t have, such as a community center. In addition, costs have been driven higher than expected by the fallout from Katrina.
Some officials have argued the money should be used to put some of the 47,000 existing blighted structures back into use, but the state bonds are earmarked exclusively for Guste Homes.
In other news, The Times Picayune reported Jefferson Parish’s plans to build a new fire department complex. The new complex will be erected on undeveloped land on Riverside Drive and would cost around $4 million, a cost that the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department’s capital budget will cover.
Plans for a new headquarters were made three years ago, but an $8.5 million complex designed by architect Anthony Gedusa fell through due to costs and opposition from the firefighters’ union. The first plans envisioned transforming Station 19 on Edwards Avenue in Elmwood into a five-story central operations center.
The Riverside Drive plans have met with no opposition.
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Photo by Amerique via Wikimedia Commons