HRI and C.J. Peete developer chosen for Iberville work

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The Housing Authority of New Orleans today selected a proposed partnership between prominent local developer and a national company to lead efforts to redevelop the Iberville public housing development on the fringe of the French Quarter.

The partnership is between HRI Properties and McCormack Baron Salazar. McCormack Baron Salazar is based in St. Louis, but has earned a local reputation for its work redeveloping the former C.J. Peete public housing development in Central City into Harmony Oaks, a 460-unit mixed-income development that is 90 percent complete, according the developer. HRI is best known locally for redeveloping the former St. Thomas housing project in the Lower Garden District into River Garden.

HRI Chief Executive Officer Pres Kabacoff was one of a handful of developers who attended a meeting about the project at HANO headquarters after a request for qualifications from developers interested in the project was released Aug. 13.  Applications were due a month later, on Sept. 13.

The two-week period between the deadline and today’s selection was unusually short but necessary because of a fast-encroaching deadline to apply for a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhoods grant that HANO hopes to use to finance the rebuilding, HANO spokesman David Jackson said today.

If HANO doesn’t win the grant, the redevelopment of Iberville is in question. The agency hasn’t identified another source of money to do the work, Jackson said, which is one reason they moved quickly.

“There is an opportunity, and when the opportunity made itself present, we jumped on it,” Jackson said.

The developer’s qualifications will be weighed as part of the joint application submitted to HUD by the city and HANO.

Jackson said that he could not comment on whether half the development’s 819 units will be rebuilt offsite, as projected in the request for qualifications to which HRI and McCormack Baron Salazar responded. That will be determined by   a new working group made of Iberville residents, representatives of the development team and HANO, he said.

“We will develop the plan with residents,” Jackson said.

One resident, Kim Piper, who is the president of the Iberville Resident Council said she is pleased a local developer was chosen.

“I’m glad it is someone who is from here and knows the way we live,” she said.

Piper said that she is meeting with the developers tomorrow.

“It all seems lovely now,” she said.  “I can’t say much more until I talk with them.”

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