Notes from New Orleans: Public Housing Demolitions Begin

Posted on: February 27th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 3 Comments

The St. Bernard housing development.

The demolitions have begun in earnest at three of the four public housing developments—at a pace that seems designed to get these buildings out of sight and out of mind as quickly as possible. I visited a week ago and the buildings were being prepared to come down. The last belongings of residents along with major appliances and water heaters were strewn in the courtyards. Roofing shingles were removed down and the wooden decking is exposed. Windows were being punched out with an extended fork-lift like device. At C.J. Peete, a number of buildings are already gone and the work is moving along throughout the site at a brisk pace. At B. W. Cooper, work is concentrated on the 1950s era buildings. None of the historic buildings have been touched.

The C.J. Peete housing development.

We learned about a week ago when developers were presenting their master plans as part of a required six-months-out review required by the agreements negotiated under the Section 106 consultation process, that the developers of C. J. Peete and B. W. Cooper plan to rehabilitate one or two historic buildings at each site for permanent residential housing—this after we had been repeatedly told by HUD and HANO that this was impossible.

The B.W. Cooper housing development.

Most depressing among the developer status reports is the one from Providence Enterprise, in which the developer complains about approval delays and states that no salvage of materials was considered because it would only slow the process further—this from the developer demolishing the development with the most architectural character and in the best shape of the four. At Lafitte, the terra cotta roofing tiles are being removed and chucked off of buildings and hauled away—this despite the fact that Department of Safety and Permits staff say demolition permits have not been released for this site.

The Lafitte housing development.

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3 Responses

  1. Green Redux » The Politics of Demolition in New Orleans

    March 1, 2008

    [...] National Trust New Orleans field office director, Walter Gallas, blogged last week that, indeed, public housing demolitions have begun in three of the four public housing developments slated to be razed. At current, HUD is spending [...]

  2. Kim O'Connell

    March 2, 2008

    This is just stunning and so sad. The fact that they have not allowed even reasonable time for some salvage is very telling, in my view. I can only hope for the best regarding the historic buildings that they powers-that-be have pledged to adaptively use.

    Keep the posts coming, Walter. I hope they’re getting widespread attention, and I’m glad to see the blogger cite this post.

  3. Felix Kos

    March 5, 2008

    Hey, Nawlins’ ain’t the only victim … thanks to the subprime meltdown, many older foreclosed homes in the midewest are being vandalized for their wiring and copper pipes and damaged to the point of being un-inhabitable in the process, leading to demolition. From natural to man-made disaster, we’re about to see the biggest wave of housing demolition in a long, long time … wake up preservationists!