The Tulane City Center has been working with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority to Launch a new program aimed at restoring/renewing facades along main commercial corridors in the city. The program was launched through a press conference with the Mayor and representatives from NORA and the TCC on Tuesday January 21. For more information here’s the news story from Robert McClendon of the Times Picayune: (for a link to the original story click here)
Business owners in some of New Orleans’ most historic, but also most blighted, commercial corridors may be able to give the properties a facelift, thanks to a new program announced Tuesday.
With the crumbling facades of Central City’s Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard as a backdrop, Mayor Mitch Landrieu touted the $1 million initiative as a another step toward the redevelopment of areas left out the city’s overall economic rise.
The strips eligible for the program include:
Bayou Road between Broad Street and Esplanade on the edge of Treme.
Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard from Calliope Street to Jackson Avenue in Central City.
St. Claude from Congress Street to Poland Street and Franklin Avenue to Mandeville.
Officials said that another “Place Making,” project, also financed at $1 million, will provide money to local Main Street organizations for beautification projects in those areas.
The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, nominally an independent organization but functionally an arm of city government, will manage the programs. Funds for the initiatives come from revenue that the authority has amassed from the sale of properties that the state bought and transferred to the authority as part of the Road Home program.
Authority officials said that, to date, NORA has taken ownership of 5,100 properties, 2,650 of which have been sold. It maintains an inventory of about 2,450 properties.
Officials could not immediately say how much money the sale of those properties has brought in to date.
Each individual property owner who invests up to $50,000 in facade improvements will be eligible for up to $37,500 in reimbursement through the program, said Melissa Lee, a senior adviser with NORA. However, the business owners will have to front the money for the construction costs themselves or secure a private loan.
Jeff Hebert, NORA’s director, acknowledged that many property owners in the eligible corridors probably lack cash to pay the initial construction costs. “That’s where we are going to have to work with some partners in the private lending market,” he said. In addition to a private loan, Hebert said, the program is set up such that property owners can tackle projects in chunks to minimize the amount of money they need up front.
Property owners will also be eligible for 30 hours of technical support from the Tulane City Center to help them ensure that their renovations comply with Historic Development rules. Tyler Gamble, a spokesman for Landrieu, said that the center will also work up preliminary designs.