In The News › Developers not giving up on Blue Plate project

Nov 19, 2010

Source: Fox 8

Filed under: Housing, Orleans Parish

Developers not giving up on Blue Plate project

Friday, November 19, 2010
By Sabrina Wilson
Fox 8

New Orleans – It’s a conversation piece, something from the past that many locals can’t help but remember when they drive by. Now there is a plan to infuse new life into the old Blue Plate Factory on Jefferson Davis Parkway at Earhart.

“It’s sitting at the crossroads of important streets. It’s a famous icon sitting derelict, why not take advantage of it?”, said Developer Pres Kabacoff of HRI Properties, who along with Tara Hernandez of JCH Development are behind the project. “If the project goes away, that means the city has wasted $3.5 dollars,” Kabacoff said.

Through the city controlled HUD “Home” Funds Program, the $3.5 million was provided to purchase the property, according to Kabacoff. It is a $ 22 million dollar project and the rest of the funding would come from bonds, tax credits and bank loans. But the State Bond Commission delayed a vote yesterday until more information on the city’s housing needs is completed by UNO and a local demographer.

The redevelopment proposal promises 72 housing units, with 70 percent of the lofts set aside for low income tenants. The goal would be to fill the building with artists.

“Lease with a preference for artists, both affordable and market rate tenants in an environment where they can be creative and actually spur some economic development opportunities,” said Hernandez.

While Mayor Landrieu has written a letter supporting the project, and the developers are convinced the market will bear additional mixed income rental units, The Bureau of Governmental Research issued a report last year warning about the post-Katrina growth in subsidized rental units.

In the report, BGR projects that by 2012 the city will have almost 36,000 units of subsidized housing, up about 15,800 from before Katrina. And that the city will have 70-percent of the region’s subsidized housing.

“The reality is we need it desperately and so the bond commission is awaiting the final report on that which will come out next month,” Kabacoff said in pointing to a preliminary report from a UNO expert which said 20,000 low income renters in the city are struggling to find affordable housing.

And the developers insist despite the economy, they will be able to secure financing.

“That’s why we want to go, we’re ready to go, we’re permitted, we’re designed, we’re financed, let’s go,” Kabacoff said.

The Bond Commission could revisit the proposal in December.

Nov 19, 2010

Source: Fox 8

Filed under: Housing, Orleans Parish

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