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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Fall 2002 arrow Louisiana: Redevelopment of the St. Thomas Housing Project, New Orleans
Louisiana: Redevelopment of the St. Thomas Housing Project, New Orleans

Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Located in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District, the National-Register-eligible St. Thomas housing project is among the many properties that will be replaced by new federally subsidized housing, market-rate rental housing, condominiums, and a continuing care retirement center.

While the plans for some of these new residential properties have raised concerns within the community, the proposed new retail development— including a “superstore”—has generated the most controversy.

The Housing Authority of New Orleans plans to provide funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the redevelopment of the St. Thomas housing project in New Orleans, Louisiana, which dates to the Great Depression and is eligible for inclusion in the National Register.

St. Thomas housing project, New Orleans, Louisiana

 

 

A unit of the St. Thomas housing project, New Orleans, LA
(photo courtesy of HUD)

 

 

The redevelopment project will result in the demolition of the existing housing and construction of new federally subsidized housing both on the original site and on scattered sites throughout the community. Market-rate rental housing, condominiums, and a continuing care retirement center will also be constructed on the site.

In January 2002, the housing authority expanded the project’s area of potential effect to include two nearby National Historic Landmark (NHL) districts—the Garden District and the Vieux Carre. Two NHL church buildings are also located in the area of potential effect, as well as Coliseum Square, the Civil War-era Amelia Cotton Press Warehouse, and the Lower Garden, Bywater, and Central Business District Historic Districts.

While the plans for the new market-rate housing sparked questions within the community, local residents and businesses are particularly concerned about the introduction of a variety “superstore” adjacent to the Lower Garden Historic District. Merchants from historic Magazine Row argue that the superstore will seriously erode their customer base.

In addition, the narrow, old streets are ill-equipped to handle the development. Finally, many argue that the construction of the superstore in the midst of numerous historic residential and commercial areas will forever change the historic flavor of New Orleans.

In September 2000, ACHP entered into an agreement with the housing authority, the developer, and the Louisiana State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) on the treatment of the historic properties at the site, and all but five housing units were demolished. When the developer announced in July 2001 that it was negotiating with the superstore as a possible retailer at the site, however, the public immediately reacted.

The SHPO notified the housing authority that consultation needed to be reopened to develop an amendment to the agreement that would provide for public participation and would consider the effects of the new project on the Amelia Cotton Press Warehouse.

The amendment is currently under negotiation and many consulting parties are weighing in, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Magazine Row Association, Coliseum Square Association, Jackson Avenue Task Force, Louisiana Landmark Society, and St. Thomas Resident Council.

Staff contact: Lee Keatinge


Posted November 6, 2002

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