Construction starts on $45 million gated community in Marrero _lowres

Rendering provided by Peoples Community -- Westwood Crossing, a $45 million mixed-income gated community in Marrero, will include 87 single-family homes on 34 acres, plus four acres of commercial space.

Peoples Community held a groundbreaking ceremony last week for Westwood Crossing, a $45 million mixed-income gated community in the 7000 block of Lapalco Boulevard in Marrero.

The development will include 87 single-family homes on 34 acres, plus 4 acres of commercial space.

Westwood will be marketed primarily to government employees, including firefighters, police officers, sheriff’s deputies and teachers.

Sale prices for homes will begin at $168,000 with grant assistance, and soft second mortgages are available for up to $65,000, the company said in a news release.

The houses will average 1,500 square feet of living space with a two-car garage.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide housing opportunities for our public servants,” Leatrice Hollis, executive director of Peoples Community, said in the release. “Everyone should have the opportunity to have housing that is secure and affordable.”

Hollis said the first homes constructed will be market-rate homes, though the plan is ultimately to have 60 of the 87 homes as workforce housing.

Westwood will get $2.1 million in federal money through the Jefferson Parish Office of Community Development.

Westwood will offer residents economic development training in partnership with Greater Mount Calvary Church, which is located close to the development. Mount Calvary Pastor Terry Gullage called the church’s participation “a huge honor” and “a way of giving back to those who give every day to our community.”

Peoples Community has been involved in about 10 affordable-housing construction, rehabilitation and restoration projects over the past decade in southeast Louisiana, including the nearby Anderson Place subdivision, which was geared toward first responders and their families. It also developed Jacqueline Court, which includes 24 single-family homes in Harvey behind the former Omni Bank building.

Peoples says it has made home ownership a reality for more than 185 families over the past 10 years and has created job-training programs, employment and community services for hundreds of individuals and families.

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, said Westwood is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that “everyone can live somewhere they can afford and where they feel safe and secure.”

The commercial portion of Westwood is being developed in conjunction with former New Orleans Saints star Rickey Jackson’s company, Grid Iron Construction.

Hollis said the commercial portion will include six 900-square-foot retail bays, one of which will serve as a business incubator.

Officials attending Friday’s ceremony included several local elected officials and representatives from First NBC Bank, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission and U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s office.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.