Residents concerned as City council to take up zoning change for Bywater housing complex

Residents concerned as City council to take up zoning change for Bywater housing complex

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Joe Brown moved to the Bywater years ago, and has seen the land around him change. Much like the affordable housing unit that used to sit across the road from him until the Housing Authority of New Orleans tore it down. That’s why with the possibility of another affordable housing project, Brown says he’s simply opposed to the size of it.

“It would literally be 44 feet tall looking over houses that are single story houses and it’s too out of context for the neighborhood,” said Brown.

At stake is a 136-apartment complex, 60 percent of which would be dedicated for affordable housing. Brown says 60 percent isn't enough, he'd rather a complex 100 percent affordable, one that would fit in with the Bywater feel, and would not overwhelm the neighborhood.

“Almost all of the 600 something people who have signed the petition totally in favor of affordable housing but not to the scale that they want to put here,” said Brown.

Posted all around the land of the potential site at Royal Street and Mazant Street are signs saying, "Get it right, all affordable, always” and calls for neighbors to turn out to the city council meeting to oppose the complex and the zoning change. If the city council doesn’t first approve the zoning change, it could put the entire project in danger.

“This is the housing authority’s land and the housing authority must create affordable housing on its land,” said Andreanecia Morris with Housing NOLA.

She says creating affordable housing is important, but it's especially important in the Bywater.

“This is the place we want our workforce and they can't live there now, this development gives them the opportunity to come home, people who made up the Bywater neighborhood for generations and have been pushed out this gives them a chance to come home,” said Morris.

While there's been concern for the size and the design of the proposal, she says it's important to approve the zoning change first and make design changes later.

“There’s going to be a number of opportunities to refine it to get it better so moving through tomorrow is a way to get through those concerns,” said Morris.

But Brown fears approving a zoning change is a step towards approving the existing, and in his opinion, flawed proposal.

“Our position is really why don’t you wait kill the zoning change and lets then get together with all the neighborhood’s affordable housing activists and the neighborhood,” said Brown.

The developer of the project is ITEX, a company out of Texas.

Councilwoman Kristen Palmer put out a statement regarding the project earlier.

In it she said she supports reducing the number of apartments to 90 to better fit in with the Bywater feel.

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