The Project / FAQs
Why does the Riverfront qualify for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding when there are other recovery projects that might seemingly serve more immediate needs?
Public safety and assisting citizens in securing affordable, durable housing are the City’s most important recovery objectives. To this end, several billion dollars in federal disaster-recovery funds are being utilized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair and enhance levee fortifications and canal walls throughout the City. With regards to providing safe, affordable housing, the City of New Orleans is dedicating over $35 million in D-CDBG (Disaster Community Development Block Grant) funds to support homeownership incentive programs. In addition, the City of New Orleans is dedicating approximately $20 million in D- CDBG and other federal grants towards blight elimination and redevelopment programs.
Overall, $411 million in D-CDBG were dedicated to the City of New Orleans for “long- term recovery” purposes. The intent of these funds was to complement FEMA “public assistance” funds, which are to be used for repairs to storm-damaged public infrastructure, federal hazard mitigation funds, and other disaster- recovery funds that were awarded directly to homeowners and businesses that were damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The City’s allotment of D-CDBG was awarded based on City Council and LRA approval of the New Orleans Citywide Strategic Recovery and Redevelopment Plan (CSRRP). The CSRRP incorporates all proposed projects and policies from the Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP), the City’s designated recovery area strategy, and other neighborhood district plans. While not a mandate for the construction of any particular project, the CSRRP is to be utilized as the principle policymaking guide by the City of New Orleans with regards to developing recovery-related projects and programs.
Pursuant to the CSRRP, all proposed recovery-related projects or programs that would utilize D-CDBG, shall advance long-term recovery and stability in one or more of the following recovery-based priority categories:
- Blight Reduction, Home Ownership Assistance & Neighborhood Recovery
- Community Facilities
- City Roads and Infrastructure
- Economic Development & Job Programs
- Recreation Facilities
- School Facilities and Programs
- Soil Assessment & Remediation and Hazard Reduction
The Downriver Park significantly advances several of the above recovery-based priority categories, including: city infrastructure, community facilities, economic development, blight reduction, and neighborhood recovery. As such, the Downriver Park is a multi-faceted investment, a catalytic project aimed at ensuring the City’s long-term recovery and something which fundamentally complements rather than detracts from other vital disaster-recovery priorities.
2 Project Area
What is the physical area of this Downriver Park? Who owns the property? Why was it selected to be first?
This 1.5 mile-long parcel consists of the City-owned property on the waterside of the floodwall from Esplanade Avenue to Mazant Street. It excludes the property reserved by the Port of New Orleans for “key maritime uses” at the Esplanade, Governor Nicholls and Pauline Street wharves.
It also includes two additional pieces of City-owned property on the landside of the floodwall: first, the property between Decatur Street and the floodwall from Esplanade Avenue to Spain Street and second, the land between Chartres Street and the floodwall from Piety Street to Mazant.
But for certain at-grade pedestrian crossings, this project also excludes all of the Public Belt Railroad’s tracks, which obviously remain active rail lines.
This portion of the Riverfront was selected to be developed first for three reasons. They are:
(01) Property rights: Every parcel is owned the City. By contrast, there are several title questions on other parcels. As such, this land is ideal for immediate development.
(02) Continuity: This property is adjacent to the Moonwalk and Woldenberg Park, thus extending accessibility for a total of 2.2 miles, from Spanish Plaza to Mazant Street.
(03) Solid levee: The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) intends to soon publish its report detailing which portions of the riverfront will require reinforcement or fortification. The Corps has advised the NOBC that, in contrast to other sections, this property will not require any major work.
3 Remaining Plan
When will the remainder of “Reinventing the Crescent” be implemented?
Money fuels the engine. As funding becomes available, the remaining portions of Reinventing the Crescent will be implemented as well. The New Orleans Building Corporation’s goal remains to complete the entire Plan by 2018, the year we welcome the world to celebrate New Orleans’ 300th birthday.
Who will maintain the property and provide security? And how will it be paid for?
The management of the property is still being determined, but the New Orleans Building Corporation is discussing the opportunity with the Audubon Institute (Audubon). Audubon is well known for its experience in landscape and horticulture, security, repair and maintenance, operating “Friend of” organizations, and managing special-events, as well as analogous experience running the similar property at Woldenberg Park and the Moonwalk. An organization like Audubon would be an ideal partner for the long-term care and maintenance of the Downriver Park. The ultimate decision of who will manage the property as well as how it will be funded in perpetuity will be determined by February 2009.
Where will people park? Will there be a traffic impact study?
In an effort to maintain maximum public open space on the Riverfront, no parking on the waterside of the floodwall is planned. Following a traffic impact study and analysis of it, the proper number of parking spaces will be created on the two city owned properties that abut the landside of the floodwall, including the property between Decatur Street and the floodwall from Esplanade Avenue to Spain Street and, secondly, the land between Chartres Street and the floodwall from Piety Street to Mazant. We are also fortunate to have two large city-owned parking lots on Elysian Fields Avenue. Operated by the French Market Corporation, these lots afford ample parking for citizens driving from other parts of the city to enjoy the Riverfront.
Will there be a bike path?
Definitely. There will be a continuous public bike path, with appropriate signage and regulation of speed, much like one sees today in Woldenberg, City Park and other public open spaces.
What uses will be permitted on the Riverfront and during what hours will the Riverfront be accessible? How will these uses be enforced?
A roster of permitted uses on the Riverfront will be determined during the Program Advancement Phase of design, which will be complete by the end of October 2008. This process for determining these uses will include three public meetings, and every constructive idea is encouraged. The first meeting was held on September 17, 2008. Once uses have been determined, the best mechanism for legally enforcing them will be chosen i.e.: Ordinance, lease or other legally binding document. Hours of operation for the riverfront will follow our City’s zoning code, which limits operating hours to 6:00 am to 10:30 pm.
How will this change the zoning of the Riverfront and how does this process relate to the CPC’s work to complete the CZO/Master Plan for the City?
Establishing zoning is an entirely separate process conducted by the City Planning Commission and the City Council. For more information on the Master Plan process, please visit: http://www.cityofno.com/pg-52-2-master-plan-elements.aspx.
Will there be residential or other high-rise development in the Downriver Park?
No. There will be no residential or other high-rise development in the Downriver Park.
Will the riverfront streetcar line be extended?
Reinventing the Crescent actively supports extending the Riverfront Streetcar to Poland Avenue. The tracks and footprint for the extension sit within the Public Belt right of way mentioned in 1 above and are not part of this project. The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) leads and controls all aspects of the streetcar system and should be consulted for its plans and timing. According to the LRA, the RTA is currently updating their draft environmental impact statement post-Katrina for the Desire Streetcar line which would extend from the existing Canal Street line east along Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue to Poland Avenue. 4
11 Historic Review
Will there be a historic review of the existing structures on the Riverfront and a Section 106 Review concerning the impact on the adjacent historic neighborhoods? Will the entire design undergo a Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC) review?
Yes. There will be a historic review and Section 106 Review of the existing structures on the Riverfront and the adjacent neighborhoods. The design team intends to maintain the industrial artifacts that are structurally sound, including the adaptive reuse of the Mandeville Wharf and both the firewall and wharf at Piety Street. The HDLC will also review the project.
Will this project negatively impact the maritime activities of the Port?
No. This project will not only not negatively impact the maritime activity of the Port of New Orleans, but it will significantly boost the visitor experience for the Port’s many cruise passengers.