A coalition of residents and neighborhood groups in the Lower 9th Ward yesterday presented three alternatives to a mixed-use development proposed for the former Holy Cross School campus by Perez architects.
Unlike the Perez project, which residents complained was too tall, too dense and out of character with the historic nature of the neighborhood, the alternative plans centered around resident preferences of adapting the site with a community focus.
The Lower 9th Ward Vision Coalition is a nonprofit group that was formed to lead the efforts in creating the competing development proposals.
The battle over the future of the former site of Holy Cross School, which has been closed since Hurricane Katrina, has been going on for more than a year with both sides finding less common ground as time goes by.
Perez’s plans called for renovation of the three-story historic Holy Cross administrative building (built in 1895), construction of a 181-unit riverfront apartment building with 349 parking spaces and 10,000 square feet of space for a restaurant and amenities for the residents. They proposed a building with staggered heights, ranging from 68 feet to 132 feet.
After many meetings with the Historic District Landmarks Commission Architectural Review Committee and input from neighbors, Perez scaled those plans back, reducing the number of units in the apartment building to 130 and decreasing the height to 75 feet.
Perez is also seeking to change the zoning from residential to a general commercial designation, requesting a waiver on the 40-foot height, and a conditional-use permit to put the nearly 50,000-square-foot administrative building back into use.
Neighborhood residents still had issues with the height and density of the development, so they approached Tulane University’s City Center and sought to work with them on creating an alternative plan. Tulane’s City Center, specializing in design and urban redevelopment, helped the community group by providing real-estate expertise and cost analysis for the project.
The three plans revealed this week are entirely different than the Perez design.
The first proposal would convert the nearly 14-acre Holy Cross site into a public park and comes with a price tag of $21 million.
The second proposal includes the construction of 27 single-family homes, 30 multi-family homes, and nine acres of green space at a cost of $34 million.
The third proposal includes 27 single-family houses, eight acres of green space and an expansion of the school’s campus at a cost of $47 million,
All three proposal would include neighborhood access to the levee and a public park.