Notes from New Orleans: A Visit to Lafitte

Posted on: March 7th, 2008 by Walter Gallas

I walked around the this past Sunday morning. The 196 units in 18 buildings at the end closest to I-10/Claiborne appear to be under basic renovation. The metal screens are being removed from the doors and windows and even on Sunday I saw men working inside some of the units. These are the units which the City Council and the Mayor called for opening as interim units.

Lafitte housing development, March 2008.

The story is not so good at the opposite end of the development, where I counted roughly the same number of buildings whose terra cotta roofing tile and copper attic vents had been removed. (So, roughly one-fourth of the development is under basic renovation, and one-fourth is in the first stages of being demolished.) The tile is strewn in broken shards around the buildings, where it landed as it was being tossed off the roofs. I picked up a number of pieces. It is inscribed “Ludowici English Shingle, Ludowici Celedon Co. Chicago.”

Tile cleared from the roof of the Lafitte housing development.

Earlier in the week I had enlisted the help of Times-Picayune writer Lolis Eric Elie when we learned from the city’s Department of Safety and Permits that there were no demolition permits issued for Lafitte—but the city staffer thought there was some kind of abatement permit for the site. Elie contacted HUD and was told by a HUD spokesperson that the contractor had an asbestos abatement permit. I spoke to a representative of the Ludowici Company in Ohio this week. She, and another colleague conformed that there is no asbestos in the terra cotta tile.

I have been frantically emailing the City Council members about this and Lolis is promising to do more columns on this whole matter. Interestingly, on Tuesday, someone from the Housing Authority called and asked for a meeting to talk about salvaging materials from Lafitte. We are meeting on Wednesday. While the Housing Authority staffer canceled at the last minute, we met anyway with Rick Denhart of Mercy Corps who has become a go-between for us in communicating with the Housing Authority.

(Edited to add: Updated details of Wednesday's meeting.)

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