Article by Della Hasselle, for MidCityMessenger.com
A new affordable housing development may soon be constructed on the corner of Bienville and Roman streets.
The Roman-Bienville Homes, LLC calls for 31 units, a community center and six parking spaces.
The project is slated to have 16 one-bedroom, nine two-bedroom and six three-bedroom apartments. Construction is set to start on Aug. 1, 2013.
Neville Development has been hired by St. James AME Development Company, LLC, an entity of the St. James AME Church, to re-develop properties they currently own for the project.
Of the 13 properties, all located in Mid-City, eight sites will be demolished, while the other five sites will undergo historic rehabilitation.
“That’s our specialty – to try and save historic buildings,” developer James E. Neville said at a Monday night Mid-City Neighborhood Organization meeting.
Some of the buildings, he added, were “just not suitable for saving.”
Neville asked the community to support his project in a written letter. All plans except for one building have been approved by the city, he added.
“We have a lot of blight all around us, and this will be a really a thousand percent improvement,” said Pastor Otto Duncan, of the historic St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church.
“And maybe it will precipitate other improvements in the neighborhood.”
Some community members expressed concern about the demolition of standing historic houses and the design of at least one of the new buildings. The new development is designed to have 11 properties, versus the 13 that stand now.
Troy Legeaux, a Treme resident who lives just one block away from Mid City, worried about lack of sunlight for the design of one building that had three residences in it, side by side.
Due to the design, the middle property would only have access to sunlight from front and back windows.
“I’m just concerned whenever they take a bunch of residences and try and maximize the square footage of the property for profit, rather than keep the footprint of the existing neighborhood.” Legeaux said.
“I’m not against progress, it’s just that the design of the progress shouldn’t deter from the historic nature of the houses around it.”
The proposed project will use an allocation of $600,000 in 2013 low-income housing tax credits that was awarded to Roman-Bienville Homes. Boston Financial has agreed to purchase the credits, which will generate $5.6 million in tax credit equity, according to a presentation given during the meeting.
The construction is slated for a completion date of Aug 1, 2014.
In other construction news, contractors working on a new school in Mid-City have said that as of now there will be no night work, according to MCNO vice president Bonnie Garrigan.
Neighbors were concerned about the construction of a new 107,000-square-foot Fisk Howard Elementary School, which will eventually house Morris Jeff Community School.
The work in question was concrete foundation work, which contractors previously said could be poured at night because of heat.
“At this time they’ll be making concessions not to do that,” Garrigan said.