Land Use
 

Live chat Thursday: Talk to Pres Kabacoff about downtown redevelopment

The Lens’ Tyler Bridges recently sat down with Pres Kabacoff to hear his ideas to redevelop New Orleans’ urban core:

He is sketching out a vision that stitches the pieces together: Iberville would become a mixed-income neighborhood. As Mayor Mitch Landrieu has proposed, City Hall would occupy one wing of Charity and the Civil District Court would take a second wing. The third wing, Kabacoff proposes, would house a neuroscience facility dedicated to advancing brain research for such diseases as Alzheimer’s. …

With thousands of new government workers, court officials and medical professionals at the renovated Charity and hundreds of new residents at a safe Iberville, national retailers would have a reason to invest downtown, Kabacoff figures. The vacant lots on Canal would become a New Orleans version of Lakeside Shopping Center and a magnet for locals and tourists.

Pres Kabacoff

Pres Kabacoff

Kabacoff acknowledges this more of a vision than a plan. He doesn’t have financing for it, and retailers wouldn’t be interested in the mall unless there were potential shoppers nearby. And some preservationists don’t trust Kabacoff because of how he pushed through the redevelopment of the St. Thomas housing development and the construction of the Wal-Mart there. Thursday at noon CDT, Lens readers can talk to Kabacoff about his ideas. Come here at noon and use the chat window below to post your questions and comments. I’ll moderate them to keep the conversation organized. Bridges will participate as well, adding his own questions and comments based on his reporting. In the meantime, you can read the original story, post your comments there, listen to our radio story or watch a video in which Kabacoff explains his plans.

Live chat

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  • Janet Hays

    I wonder if our comments will show up in the billion dollar plan under the part where HRI shows that residents were involved in the planning process……
    LOL!

  • Janet Hays

    These were my questions that never made it to air.

    1.We are living in times of huge economic disparity. The middle class has been gutted and our City is broke. Entire Countries are going bankrupt yet residents have critical needs. Do you factor those needs into your dreams when you think about “diverse, vibrant and sustainable neighborhoods” and what is your plan on how to deal with our homeless and mentally ill population?

    2. Residents that have created the culture planners and politicians use to attract tourists to New Orleans feel constantly left out of development projects. How does your vision and masterplan for New Orleans square with the City masterplan that has the force of law?

    3. Act 900 created a revenue stream to allow the City of New Orleans to work with the courts to meet it’s statutory obligation. The Judges have all the money they need to begin construction on Duncan Plaza today and, in fact, it’s the City that needs the Courthouse. Housing the Courts, in Charity would automatically net the City approximately $100 million dollars of New Courthouse Building Committee funds and millions of yearly maintenance funds. Have you met with Judges Bagneris and Reese?

  • Hoodoonola

    Yeah let’s bring more retail and more tourists so we can have more low-wage jobs and more working people living in poverty and needing subsidized housing, to say nothing of other needs from childcare and healthcare will also have to be subsidized – does anyone else see how illogical and grossly unfair this is??

  • joeintheupper9th

    How can we get some kind of housing cost controls in New Orleans? Artists, musicians, and service people are being priced into the East and St. Bernard, and have to commute back downtown. Pre-K, and the first wave of post-K transplants came for the low-cost housing. New Orleans won’t be “cool” anymore when the low-cost housing dries up and new musicians relocate elsewhere. Urban non-homogeneous culture is fragile, and housing costs will make New Orleans into Baton Rouge, not Paris. Look at all those new Afro-Caribbean looking people in the Marigny and Bywater! Pres calling non-rich people “sick” is offensive. People don’t have money because housing costs are too high, not the other way around. If my rent were cut in half, I’d have way more money in my pocket. My income is based on the local labor market, my rent is based on international developers raising housing costs as much as possible for the sake of elite profit. Pres seems to think that the conscious work he does to raise housing costs is “natural” and that there’s something “unnatural” about regular folks who can’t cover the costs. Who is “sick” here?

  • Hoodoonola

    Not a very holistic ‘vision’ that’s for sure… HRI isn’t keeping up with the more innovative trends in urban planning and development apparently ….

  • Hoodoonola

    As far as the pros an cons of the raise all boats theory – here’s some food for thought:
    Published on Jul 29, 2013
    Ed Whitfield of the Fund for Democratic Communities (http://f4dc.org/)
    on why the “teaching a man to fish” parable is a lie
    http://youtu.be/fPcIumnhB8I

  • 1NONewsladder2

    I got a question in about rents which Pres didn’t touch.

    These are far better questions here in the comments that inexplicably didn’t make it to the chat –ahead of the Noe-Marcsist Nay-Sayers and Nimnybob astroturfers, or the Outside Developers.
    I wanted to ask Pres about the perpetually empty and locked Artist Park in bywaters, but quickly realized that answers is not what he wanted to use our Lens for. That’s right -> OUR LENS was Used by this millionaire developer to shovel his horse pockey.

    I’ve gone from pissed-off at such bourgeois naivete to full bore distraught at the implications for our Lens ability to claim neutrality in this class war.

  • Janet, can you email me at smyers at thelensnola dot org? I didn’t see any of these questions and I need to figure out what happened.

  • joeintheupper9th

    I’ve heard good things about the Lens, but I got a bad impression from this PRESentation.

  • Hoodoonola

    HRI’s National Cities Fund, which utilizes New Markets Tax
    Credits, federal and state Historic Tax
    Credits, tax exempt and urban renewal bonds, Community Development
    Block Grant funds, and Economic Development Initiative grants to
    finance projects that would otherwise not be viable and then “targets projects that eliminate slum and blight in
    urban areas and create economic opportunities for Low-Income
    residents. ” I don;t see that with all this money from the public coffers they are creating any economic opportunity for anyone but themselves at this point — unless you figure those WalMart jobs the River Gardens development provided qualifies as economic opportunity…. See: http://www.hriproperties.com/national-cities-fund

  • Hoodoonola

    The WalMart on Tchoup received $28M in tax increment financing …. HRI said they could not finish the HOPE VI there without it …. how much was their cut, and what kind of economic opportunity for the low-income did it provide?

  • Hoodoonola

    Maybe we should start our own little national Cities fund and tap into all those same sources of public money HRI does ….. (see above)

  • 1NONewsladder2

    I’ve contributed considerably to The Lens because I believed in their independent journalism –not this, not allowing Pres Kabacoff to stake his claim to Natural Selection. Where in the rule book does it say The Lens has to give him such allowance. They already gave Pres a huge write up to spew his vision of a better, more profitable New Orleans resident. We who pay rent in Pres’ neighborhood beg to differ, but that didn’t matter today.

    The Lens didn’t just let me down, they scared the hell out of me. What’s next? Mayor Mitchmo on’da mainline? TELL HIM WHAT YOU WANT.

  • 1NONewsladder2

    The Lens is not here to ask those questions… apparently.

  • Janet Hays

    from the now infamous article:
    Iberville housing complex area: the next Lakeside Shopping Center?

    “Developer Pres Kabacoff, who was tapped by HANO to lead the envisioned Iberville redevelopment, said that a key reason for the downtown retail desert is that the French Quarter portion of Canal and its narrow side-by-side buildings provide few available properties big enough for national and big-box retailers to make a profit.”

  • 1NONewsladder2

    I remain absolutely stunned Steve Myers and The Lens allowed this developer-horse-pockey.

    Not Once did they ask that Pres actually answer a question with an answer to the question. Instead, we were all held captive while Pres Kabacoff was allowed to spew his vision, from their big write-up days earlier, of a more affluent white New Orleans.

    Afro-Paris My Ass.
    The average rent in Pres’ neighborhood, bywaters, is $1000-$1200/mo. I asked him about that. He didn’t answer. They literally let him slide. It honestly makes me wonder to whom the hell they think they’re talking.

  • Hoodoonola

    Their (national and big-box retailers) profits end up as New Orleans’ poverty, which is enough reason alone to stop the dance of trying to attract these businesses. IMHO the key reason Canal is a retail desert is our city’s decision makers failing to develop an adequate economic development strategy to assist in the start-up and development of business that are rooted here and benefit city residents. The current strategy does nothing more than export profits and economic prosperity.

  • joeintheupper9th

    But the “developers” like PK make money, his Lens cronies make money, and they make these metaphors like “rising tides floating boats”, or “money trickles down.” The argument is that the cost of goods would go up if you replaced big box stores with local businesses. Maybe the cst of doing business. But it’s fine if the cost of housing goes up?

  • Hoodoonola

    I don’t really think that is a fair characterization of The Lens, as cronies, but that is not the point I was making … my point is that PK is such an entrenched part of our sclerotic power structure that his idea of economic development is skewed, out-dated and ineffective. Locally rooted & owned retail on Canal does not in the least mean a higher price for goods either, especially if those businesses are providing goods locals need as opposed to big businesses that are there strictly to cater to tourists – if anything those big out-of-town businesses will price goods out of reach for locals, including raising the cost of housing as a result, pay crappy wages, and then those profits they make leave town – are exported – to their small group of shareholders thousands of miles away. The ideal would be worker-owned businesses operating as B-Corps on a Triple Bottom Line – a concept that PK either does not know or understand or opposes ….. there are also numerous housing cooperatives across the U.S. – which could provide a solution to the rapidly rising housing costs we are suffering here. A trend that is occurring in many communities is worker-owned businesses also establishing housing cooperatives for their members, some of which are live-work spaces for producers – which would be perfect for the mixed use of retail and housing being proposed for downtown, but which our local decisions makers seem to either not know about or oppose as well. Such innovative and democratic new economy, or solidarity economy initiatives would go long way toward alleviating the poverty and inequality that has characterized New Orleans for so long …..

  • joeintheupper9th

    I think you give the decision makers / PK too much credit. They know about worker owned businesses. They know about urban land trusts. They know about the potential of live-work cooperatives. They know that corporate profits leave town. They oppose greater equality because they directly profit from the status quo. For example, if a city council person owns a home in a neighborhood where the housing costs are going up, that city council person profits. I wonder if any city council people own more than one property? Mitch is happy to cite higher housing costs on his resume.