HANO prepares to break ground on new Florida Development housing

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- The New Orleans City Council recently approved a zoning docket that will allow HANO to begin work on the first phase of construction to redevelop the old Florida housing development seen here in New Orleans, Thursday, March 14, 2013. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON-- The New Orleans City Council recently approved a zoning docket that will allow HANO to begin work on the first phase of construction to redevelop the old Florida housing development seen here in New Orleans, Thursday, March 14, 2013.

The Housing Authority of New Orleans next month will break ground on the first phase of a redevelopment at the Florida Housing Development in the 9th Ward, beginning again a redevelopment that Hurricane Katrina knocked off track for nearly a decade.

Twenty-six two-family residential structures will be built on three blocks bounded by Congress, Alvar, Law and North Dorgenois streets, according to City Planning Commission documents. The housing will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

The total project will eventually see 51 housing units built, in addition to a management office. The subsequent phases have not yet been scheduled, according to the documents.

“This housing is needed,” District D Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said last week after she and her colleagues voted unanimously to approve the zoning docket that would allow HANO to begin work on the site. “Hopefully this will bring some of those residents back.”

HANO expects to begin work on the first phase in April, according to Lesley Thomas, a spokeswoman for the housing authority. The $13.1 million project has been awarded to Parkcrest Builders, LLC. Work is expected to take 14 months, Thomas said.

The public-housing development, originally built in 1946, had a total of 734 units. It was built in a series of three-story barracks-style buildings spread across several “superblocks,” or blocks that were several times larger than a regular city block.

In the late 1990s, HANO began to redevelop the site.

The original barracks buildings were gradually torn down and replaced with new structures, including townhouse apartments and two-family homes.

The first phase of the original redevelopment was completed in 2004. The next year Hurricane Katrina badly damaged those housing units.

Many of the structures were demolished. The only remaining structures are on Bartholomew Street and have been vacant and little more than a magnet for graffiti artists and vagrants.

Unlike the original Florida barracks, the new units will be built to resemble more traditional New Orleans homes, something the planning commission documents note is more in line with the surrounding neighborhood.

The site will also include a small playground for children who live in the development.