By Ariella Cohen, The Lens staff writer |

The young real-estate lawyer who helped to lead an ambitious post-Katrina overhaul of the beleaguered New Orleans Redevelopment Authority will be leaving the city this summer.

NORA Director of Real Estate Ommeed Sathe will now direct social investments for the Prudential financial company, and he will return to the New York area, where he lived before coming to New Orleans in 2007. In a letter Friday to NORA’s Board of Commissioners and staff, Sathe said that the decision to leave was “extremely difficult.” He and his family will keep the home they own in Uptown New Orleans, he said.

“This is the City in which my wife and I began our life together, where we welcomed our first child, and where our second is anxiously being awaited,” Sathe wrote in the letter.  “New Orleans will always feel like home and I look forward to witnessing its continued renaissance through all of your efforts. “

Sathe, who began working at NORA shortly after his 2006 graduation from Harvard Law School, described the agency transformation he helped in his letter, outlining new programs unveiled under his watch, including the Growing Home program, as well as broader strategic changes.

“When I joined NORA in the beginning of 2007 it had 8 employees, less than a $1 million annual budget and not a single active real estate development program,” he said. “Today, we have a staff of nearly 50, including many who have received prestigious local and national fellowships and are leaders in their fields.  Over the last four years, the agency has raised nearly $100 million in redevelopment support, most of which was in the form of highly competitive grants that would have bypassed the City but for our efforts.”

Sathe is working for his third agency director since joining NORA. The organization has not announced whether or not it will hire a replacement to fill Sathe’s position.