I spent an hour or so today and another yesterday distributing 200 fliers around the immediate neighborhood on behalf of Mid-City Neighborhood Organization.
Here’s the text of the flier:
The Mid-City Neighborhood Organization
Requests Your Attendance
at a Public Meeting
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 6:30 PM
Grace Episcopal Church (3700 Canal St.)
To Give Input on a Proposed, 54-Unit, Mixed-Income Housing Development that is funded largely with public grants and tax incentives.
It Will Front on Bienville Street and Be Bounded by N. Salcedo Street, N. Rendon Street, and Conti Street
The Legal Notice Published in the Times Picayune Follows:
Notice to Public: BPBM, LLC is making an application for Housing Tax Credits and LRA/OCD Piggyback funds, with the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency and LRA/OCD to develop Bienville Square, a new construction Mixed Income development consisting of 50 new apartment units. The project will also include an on-site community center which will provide social services, including after school programs, adult education program, and computer training. The site is located in the 3100 block of Bienville Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70119. The site is bounded by Bienville Street, North Salcedo Street, North Rendon Street, and Conti Street. The total cost of development will be $11.285,750 and will be funded with approximately $3,527,350 in investor equity generated from the sale of tax credits, $6,100,000 in CDBG LRA/OCD Piggyback funds, and $1,658,400 in private equity and deferred developer fee.
Published in The Times-Picayune 8/10. Updated 8/10
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE DEVELOPER, THE BANKER,
AND THE ARCHITECT WILL BE PRESENT TO DISCUSS THE PLANS.
NEIGHBORS AND INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS ARE ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND, ASK QUESTIONS, AND EXPRESS THEIR OPINIONS.
The site in question is on the next block over from our house. It housed a FEMA trailer site after Katrina, and it’s currently vacant.
Obviously what’s built there could have a big impact, positive or negative, on us and all our neighbors. The idea to build housing on this site has actually been in the works for years, but the previous owner didn’t seem interested in engaging the community anymore than he absolutely had to. Now the property is changing hands, and the new developer says he wants a dialog with the neighborhood. I don’t know if that’s just lip service or if he’s for real; but a lot of times we don’t even get lip service.
The weather’s been beautiful, so it was very pleasant to walk around the neighborhood and talk to people. Interesting, too, to see the state of things around here. We still have plenty of vacant houses that have not been renovated since the flood. We have houses that look unoccupied and dilapidated, but when you get close you hear the Saints game or a baby crying and realize people are living there after all. And we have a few really nice houses too, and all manner of in-between. All right next to each other.
People asked me if I was for or against the development. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no for me. I want to learn more. Since public money is involved, I feel all the more strongly that the public should have a voice in the process. The architect for the project is Clifton James; us Mid-City residents got to know and trust Cliff in the Lambert process, since he was our assigned planner. So that’s a positive. But I’m particularly interested in that “community center” that’s mentioned in the legal notice. It sounds great — a little too great. That makes me suspect it’s just a publicity stunt, so to speak. They shouldn’t get public money on the back of an empty promise.
PS: The girl was feeling well enough Saturday that Xy and I took her with us as I passed out fliers — her first taste of community organizing.
Also, I should note that the neighborhood organization’s main request was that the developer throw in some units for purchase. The developer has indicated he’s receptive to that. A few owner-occupied units could anchor the block. This area of Mid-City is overwhelmingly composed of rental properties, with homeowners like us sprinkled here and there.