HANO Pursues Public Housing Redevelopment in Iberville

By Amalia Otet, Associate Editor Public housing redevelopment, always a major issue for New Orleans, grew in importance following Hurricane Katrina. Now, the city has an ally in the Housing Authority of New Orleans in the battle to fight blight. One of [...]

Public housing redevelopment, always a major issue for New Orleans, grew in importance following Hurricane Katrina. Now, the city has an ally in the Housing Authority of New Orleans in the battle to fight blight.

One of the newest and most important projects initiated by the city and the housing authority is the Iberville neighborhood revitalization, which calls for investments estimated around $589 million. The authorities, determined to get the funds required to set things in motion, applied for a federal grant amounting to $120 million, but they are up against five other cities, among them Boston, Seattle, Tampa, San Francisco and Chicago. Even if they don’t get the money, HANO will not allow this to be a setback; the public housing complex is a priority, officials told The Times-Picayune.

The plan is to transform the outdated neighborhood into a vibrant, prosperous and comfortable community. The area has potential due to its proximity to the French Quarter; in addition to the residential units that HANO intends to build – about 2,500 new apartments – there would be room for retail, offices and cafes on the ground floors of the new buildings. The transformation would bring in new jobs and generate economic growth that would benefit the entire community.

The complex will retain some of the old assets: Twenty-two of the 74 brick buildings will be saved from demolition, but they will undergo major rehabilitation nonetheless. Only one-third of the apartments will maintain a public housing-level rent, while the rest will be at market rate, serving moderate-income residents.

Since 2008, HANO has been coordinating four other big projects aimed at transforming public housing sites into mixed-income, mixed-use communities. Two of them are well advanced: CJ Peete Community in Central City was redeveloped as Harmony Oaks, comprising 460 mixed-income finished units, of which 193 are public housing; and Columbia Park, a redevelopment of St. Bernard public housing into a mixed-income community, features 466 completed units, with the rest to be finished by fall 2012, including 120 seniors apartments. The others include a reconstruction of Lafitte community in Treme into a 1,500-unit mixed-income housing project and of B.W. Cooper in the second ward, planned to be home to 740 mixed-income rental properties.