Iberville redevelopment expected to transform area

Published: Oct. 21, 2013 at 11:48 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM CDT
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FOX 8 received the following news release Monday evening from The City of New Orleans:

NEW ORLEANS - Today, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu was joined by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO), and City and State officials to commemorate the ground breaking of the redevelopment of the Iberville Housing Development and to launch the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI). Iberville was originally constructed in 1941 and is New Orleans' last standing conventional public housing development. 

In 2011, HANO and the City of New Orleans were awarded $30.5 million from HUD to transform the Iberville development and to revitalize the historic Tremé neighborhood as a part of CNI. New Orleans was one of five cities to receive an Implementation Grant in its inaugural round.

"The revitalization of the Iberville housing site and the implementation of HUD's $30.5 million Choice Neighborhoods Initiative will reenergize Iberville and Tremé," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. "The construction of new, low, moderate, and market rate housing complete with retail, school, and public space improvements will strengthen these important neighborhoods that are at the heart of our city. By connecting residents with wrap around services like high quality resources, programs, and training in workforce development, education, health, and transit, New Orleans will stand as a national model for redeveloping urban neighborhoods. This project will create better housing, safer streets, and economic development." 

Watch: Mayor Landrieu celebrates ground breaking of Iberville redevelopment 

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said, "Today's groundbreaking represents another chapter in the great New Orleans comeback story. New Orleans was one of the first cities to receive a Choice Neighborhood grant, totaling roughly $30 million dollars, to help redevelop Iberville. This program embodies the President's holistic approach that not only focuses on housing – but also the issues in the surrounding neighborhood. With this and other investments we are saying loud and clear that we believe in New Orleans, its people, and its future." 

Watch: HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan: "New Orleans is doing things no other city has ever done" 

The New Orleans CNI Transformation Plan covers the one-for-one replacement of all 821 dwelling units at Iberville both on-site and in the surrounding CNI neighborhood, and the revitalization of more than 300 blocks within the boundaries of Rampart Street, Tulane Avenue, Broad Street, and St. Bernard Avenue. The full plan is estimated to cost approximately $600 million. 

Kristy H. Nichols, Commissioner of Administration for the State of Louisiana said, "The State of Louisiana is honored to have invested over $200 million into the transformation of this historic neighborhood in the city of New Orleans. Our hopes for the continued renewal of this vital place in the life of this great city remains centered on resiliency of the people of Iberville who have forged a lasting legacy of freedom and opportunity." 

Phase I and II of the onsite redevelopment plan include 227 mixed-income rental units; 81 public housing, 49 workforce and 97 market rate. Construction is estimated to be completed by early 2015. At the completion of the full project, the new community will house 880 units on-site; 304 public housing, 261 workforce, and 315 market rate homes. The plan also includes construction that began in November 2012 at the former Texaco Building located at 1501 Canal Street, which will provide 112 new housing units for elderly Iberville residents. 

Photo Gallery: Ground breaking at Iberville Housing redevelopment 

HANO Administrative Receiver David Gilmore said, "The exciting thing about this project is that it is a major link to the larger aim - the rejuvenation of downtown New Orleans on and about Canal Street and through to the historic Tremé community. The potential is almost beyond imagination and the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant helps transport that potential closer to reality. That's why this wonderful program was created in the first place and no other city deserves it more or will make better use of it than New Orleans. I'm proud to have been a part of it." 

The Iberville Working Team (IWT), comprised of residents, HANO and City staff, developers HRI Properties and McCormack Baron Salazar, Urban Strategies, Inc. and community engagement consultants GCR and The Black Men of Labor Inc. was organized to turn Iberville into a mixed-income, mixed-use community and to revitalize the surrounding CNI neighborhood by focusing on three main components: housing, people, and neighborhood.  

For more than a year, the IWT had been engaged in the environmental review process, including the Section 106 historic review process as required by the National Historic Preservation Act to mitigate any impact that the redevelopment of the community might have on any on or off-site historical elements. A Programmatic Agreement with Federal, State, and local preservationists was executed earlier this year and includes plans to preserve and renovate up to 16 historic buildings currently on site, conduct extensive archaeological studies and return to green space areas where an extension of the St. Louis cemeteries was discovered. During demolition and reconstruction, vibration from construction activities will be monitored to ensure that no damage occurs to the historical structures nearby. 

Over the summer, HANO launched the Iberville Employment Training Program, hiring 30 at-risk-youth and young adults to assist in pre-demolition activities and to receive hands on deconstruction training. The program also encourages job readiness and economic self-sufficiency. 

City Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, ""Every housing development that our city has done, and I have been privileged to be a part of it all since 2003 with the Fischer Development, has gotten better. I compliment Mayor Landrieu, Councilmember Palmer and Secretary Donovan for making Iberville the best one yet!" 

District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, "Today's groundbreaking brings us one step closer to the redevelopment of Iberville. I commend HANO for creating a plan that incorporates the area's history and historic structures into the final design. This construction is also an opportunity for the City to create jobs, support local small businesses and DBE's, and provide work experience and skills for our residents. The redevelopment's construction training program is essential since it cultivates our own citizens with job development skills. Opportunities like this are key to the viability of our city long-term." 

To date, 350 families have been relocated off-site, with the remaining to be relocated by Thanksgiving. All original Iberville families will continue to receive day-to-day case management and supportive services such as job training and placement opportunities, enrichment activities for children and youth, adult education, physical and mental health services, and other critical programs.