Thursday, the New Orleans City Council will consider a zoning change for 4100 Royal St., in the heart of the Bywater neighborhood. The proposal would allow major distortion of a plan originally proposed four years ago.
With an initial proposal for 56 affordable units, requiring no zoning change and was not opposed by neighbors, Texas developer ITEX was successful among eight bidders on this HANO project in 2015. Since then, the project has more than doubled in size to 136 units. It adds dozens of market rate apartments, which certainly sweetens the deal for the developer but is unhealthy for the neighborhood. This monolithic structure, which runs sidewalk to sidewalk, is out of scale for Bywater and out of sync with current best practices in affordable housing. We suggest a development of 74 units — all affordable — and ask the Council to just press pause for several reasons, outlined straightforwardly online at www.justpresspause.com.
We’re losing family, friends and neighbors in Bywater. Rents and mortgages have become too expensive. We welcome development that optimizes our neighborhood’s capacity for affordable housing — to scale, contextually designed and sustainable. You don’t need to spend much time in Bywater to see that we embrace diversity in many forms: age, income, sexual orientation and preference, race and ethnicity.
Diversity is in the DNA of Bywater. Bywater has always been home to the folks who make this city work, which today includes hospitality workers, artists, musicians and culture bearers. We’re losing them. We want those who are with us now to stay and those who’ve left to come back.
We want and need more affordable housing in Bywater and all across the city. It demands that we choose strategies that unite and don’t divide us as we seek to meet this challenge. Unfortunately, that’s not the choice HANO and its partners have made here.
Our focus has always been on finding solutions that work for everyone. We applaud the council’s vote last week on short-term rentals, which have been a huge factor in driving up the cost of housing in Bywater.
Over 600 petition-signing neighbors are ready to sit down with HANO’s soon-to-be-named new executive director and make a fresh start. As Mayor LaToya Cantrell recently commented on another city project: “It’s more important that we get it right than that we get it ‘right now.’” We strongly believe that her words ring true for this development as well.
president, Neighbors First for Building Community Coalition