The replacement of the Iberville housing project inched closer on Monday, as city officials and developers celebrated the completion of a 76-unit, mixed-income apartment complex on St. Louis Street that was once the site of an abandoned grocery store.
The first phase of the “City Square 162” apartment complex includes a mix of 46 market-rate apartments and another 30 for tenants receiving assistance through the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and District C Council member Freddie King joined officials with HANO, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and developer McCormack Baron Salazar for ceremonial speeches in a first-floor common area.
The remarks were followed by a mini second-line parade around the 65,000-square-foot rectangular building with a wrap-around second-floor balcony.
“The City of New Orleans remains focused on affordable housing, because everybody deserves just that in our city,” Cantrell said.
The $23 million, four-story complex was completed with financing from a combination of low-income housing tax credits, HANO funds, a private loan and a federal grant administered by the Cantrell administration. Developer McCormack Baron Salazar, which owns and manages the complex while leasing the land from HANO, will make nominal payments to the city in lieu of property taxes.
All 76 units are leased and occupied, with market rate one-bedrooms starting at $1,425 per month and two-bedrooms starting at $1,695.
More affordable housing needed
While Cantrell and other officials celebrated the opening at a Monday ceremony, some housing advocates say replacements are taking too long, as housing costs outpace local wages.
In 2010, HANO, along with the city, agreed to replace the Iberville project’s 821 public housing units as part of a $30.5 million federal grant to spur redevelopment in the surrounding Treme neighborhood.
Iberville was razed in 2013, and six years later HRI Properties completed a mixed-income development in the 23-acre Iberville footprint. That development, called Bienville Basin, contains a little more than one-third of the required replacement units.
With the first phase of City Square 162 wrapped, HANO is still 110 units shy of meeting the one-for-one replacement requirement, according to a HANO spokesperson. A second phase nearby would add another 35 replacement units by the end of 2024.
“None of these projects are moving at a rate that meets the need. The need continues to expand and grow,” said Andreanecia Morris, executive director of HousingNOLA. “We can take a moment to celebrate more affordable housing units coming online, but we need thousands more units like the ones that came online today.”
There are nearly 40,000 households in New Orleans with incomes of less than $35,000 annually, and only about half that many housing units affordable at that income level, according to HousingNOLA, a partnership of housing organizations.