Notes from New Orleans: City's First Lowe's Katrina Cottage Underway

Posted on: October 20th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 3 Comments
Lowe's store manager Joe Banks speaks at Katrina Cottage event as PRC's Operation Comeback director Pam Bryan looks on.

Lowe's store manager Joe Banks speaks at Katrina Cottage event as PRC's Operation Comeback director Pam Bryan looks on.

Last week I joined the Preservation Resource Center (PRC) and Lowe's at the construction site in Holy Cross of New Orleans' first Katrina Cottage. The PRC's Operation Comeback program is using three Lowe's designs and will be constructing Lowe's Katrina Cottages at four sites in Holy Cross. The two-bedroom shotgun style house sits at the corner of Lizardi and Douglass, along the Mississippi levee. This house will be put on the market after its completion.

The state of Louisiana has been grappling for two years to build even one Katrina Cottage as part of a pilot program to find substitute housing for the infamous FEMA trailers, and has yet to complete any houses, while the state of Mississippi has placed 2,800. It is important, though, to note that the Lowe's Katrina Cottages constructed by Operation Comeback are built from the ground up as permanent -- and in most cases expandable -- housing that meets building code specifications and that withstands hurricane force winds.  They are designed to be a part of the neighborhood for generations to come.

A view up Douglass Street in Holy Cross toward Lowe's Katrina Cottage.

A view up Douglass Street in Holy Cross toward Lowe's Katrina Cottage.

Through the support of Lowe's, Operation Comeback staff will work with homeowners who decide to purchase the plans and building materials kits to help them navigate the permit approval process in New Orleans.

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Learn more about the National Trust's Gulf Coast Recovery initiative here and more about the Katrina Cottages here.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

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3 Responses

  1. New Orleans Ladder

    October 20, 2008

    Walter, I re-post your posts sometimes without even reading them. We are big fans of the PRC at the Ladder.
    However, this Lowes’ Katrina Cottage confuses me. I cannot figure out if it is part of the State’s Katrina Cottage program. I am having trouble separating the For Profit from the Non Profit here. It bothers me whenever I see a Huge Corporation seeming to profit form our terrible misfortune. For example who will be able to afford this home and how?

    Please understand that I am not criticizing y’alls path here.
    I simply cannot get through the apparent Conflict of Interest, not to mention the absolutely ugly design which seems to reflect nothing of the neighborhood’s past architecture.

    Thank you,
    Editilla~New Orleans Ladder

  2. Walter Gallas

    October 21, 2008

    Thanks for following all of this, and for your continued support.
    I wish Lowe’s hadn’t christened these as “Katrina Cottages,” because it causes exactly the confusion you have expressed.
    What these are, are house kits available to a prospective homeowner who wants to build (or have built) a stick-built house by buying the plans and then the materials package (including appliances) from the Lowe’s company. Think Sears houses of the early 20th century.
    These are not something rolled in on wheels and then anchored to the ground, but built to city housing code specs on serious foundations.
    I can’t speak to the profit margin that Lowe’s has on these, but I know that once the house is complete, the PRC/Operation Comeback will sell it for no more than what it cost them to build.
    As to the look–wait til it’s finished with weatherboards, windows, and metal roof. We’ll get a picture of the final product and put it up.
    Thanks again!

  3. David Fields

    October 21, 2008

    Good Afternoon All
    I work for the PRC here in New Orleans and just wanted to clear up some of the confusion out there. We are not affiliated with the State Katrina Cottage program. We are a non-profit who is trying to help revitalize an architecturally and culturally significant New Orleans neighborhood. We are doing this by renovation and infill that is compatible with the architectural style of Holy Cross.
    The vernacular shotgun design of the cottage includes porches, louvered shutters and high ceilings. If you can swing by the site, the shotgun house at 520 Lizardi is one of the reasons we choose this design for the site. The new and the old fit together seamlessly.
    One more thing, the house should sell for what we put into it, around $90,000.
    Thanks and if there are any other questions please feel free to contact me.
    David Fields
    504.636.3070
    dfields@prcno.org
    Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans