HUD SECRETARY RETURNS TO BREAK GROUND AT C.J. PEETE TO BRING NEW HOUSING, MIXED-INCOME COMMUNITY Groundbreaking is second in 30 days to redevelop old public housing
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston returned to New Orleans today for a second time in less than 30 days to break ground at another public housing site that was slated for redevelopment prior to Hurricane Katrina. He joined Mayor Ray Nagin at the former C.J. Peete public housing site to make way for a new mixed-income community. Just last month Preston joined Nagin, other local officials and development partners to celebrate the start of construction of Columbia Citi Residences at Bayou District, formerly St. Bernard.
"Thanks to the dedication and perseverance of so many, we are in New Orleans again with shovels in hand," said Preston. "As we celebrate the start of a new year, we also rejoice in knowing this day has come for the families of C.J. Peete. They waited for new housing and a new community brimming with hope for future generations who will come to call this place home."
C.J. Peete will be redeveloped in two phases. The first phase will bring 460 units of traditional Louisiana architecture of two and three-story buildings to the original site. There will be 193 public housing units; 144 tax credit units that can be rented using rental assistance vouchers; and 123 market rate rental units. The second phase will bring 50 single-family affordable and market rate homes that will be constructed in other areas of Central City. When the new community is completed in 2010, there will be 510 housing opportunities. Redevelopment plans also include a new state-of-the art elementary/middle school, a 25,000 square-foot YMCA with a gymnasium and a health clinic.
The total development cost for Phase 1 is approximately $172 million. Major funding sources include $27 million of HUD funding from Louisiana's Community Development Block Grant program; $1.9 million in bonds; $16.2 million in HUD HOPE VI funds; $66.9 million in HANO funds; $56 million in tax credit equity, based on an award of $80 million in tax credits, and $4.3 million in foundation/private funds.
Joining Preston was Karen Cato-Turner, the HUD-appointed Executive Administrator for the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) and other local officials and partners, including representatives of Central City Partners – the development team that includes McCormack Baron Salazar, KAI Design Build, and the New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative. Also present were representatives from Goldman Sachs, which provided substantial capital investment to the development.
Today's groundbreaking represents a six-year effort by HUD to revitalize New Orleans' public housing. When HUD took over HANO in 2002, it began an ambitious plan to redevelop the city's public housing communities to create communities that are inclusive and safer. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, HANO, under a HUD receivership, had redeveloped public housing communities at Fischer, Guste, St. Thomas, now River Garden, and Desire, now Abundance Square.
In the late 1990s, prior to the HUD receivership, HANO had already begun implementing a redevelopment plan for C.J. Peete that included a combination of new construction and rehabilitation. HANO had gained HUD approval to demolish 70-year-old housing that was in deplorable condition. Between 1998 and 2004, HANO had demolished 680 units of the development's 1,403 units. Another 202 units had been approved and were slated for demolition. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, only 144 of the remaining 723 units were occupied.
As a part of a Memorandum of Agreement with the State Historic Preservation Officer, HANO will maintain the historic character of the community by preserving two of the original structures for community, residential and commercial uses. At the request of the former residents, the existing community center will be maintained for the housing of residential units and community and supportive service programs.
"The local government, the Housing Authority of New Orleans, HUD Secretary Preston, and the New Orleans Neighborhood Collaborative are to be commended for their commitment to work together for the good of the people on this project, providing much-needed affordable rental units and other housing," said Douglas V. O'Dell, Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding. "Today's groundbreaking marks yet another milestone in the successful rebuilding of New Orleans."
"This day has been a long time coming for the families who agreed to move 10 years ago to make way for better housing and a new community," said Preston. "We stand here today, three years after one of this nation's worst natural disasters to say the wait is over."
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.