As a local company with a 70-year history in New Orleans, Perez, APC knows the value of community involvement. It is with these prerogatives in mind that Perez has continued to work with the Holy Cross neighborhood on their proposed development for the Holy Cross. In 2012, Perez, APC presented the community with a plan for development which included two 13 story buildings. They attended countless meetings with the community, the HDLC, the City Council, the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, and members of the Lower 9th Ward community. After listening to the community’s concerns, they dropped the proposed height from 13 stories, to 7 stories. In this plan, the building’s tallest point stood at 75 feet, allowing for protected parking underneath the buildings. When the community gave feedback, Perez still heard concern over height and density from community members. Although the entire neighborhood did not share these concerns, Perez took their accommodations a step further this past week, changing their plans drastically. Changes made to the plans include the removal of 161 units, and scaling down the proposed height of the two river front buildings from 75 feet, to 60 feet. This was done specifically for community members who expressed
As more research is being conducted on American housing patterns, the disadvantages of sprawl, and greater benefits of denser living are being recognized. In a recent report published by Smart Growth America, compact living has been directly linked to personal health, financial mobility and stability, and many other noticeable benefits. “The researchers found that as Sprawl Index scores improved—that is, as areas became less sprawling—several quality of life factors improved along with them. • People have greater economic opportunity in compact and connected metro areas. • People spend less of their household income on the combined cost of housing and transportation in these areas. • People have a greater number of transportation options available to them. • People in compact, connected metro areas tend to be safer, healthier and live longer than their peers in more sprawling metro areas.” The reason people in compacted areas have greater economic mobility, is because residents are sharing the cost of a greater space with more people, hence paying a smaller rate for their space. In addition, home ownership leads to financially exhausting mortgages, and even more money being spent on the maintenance and upkeep of larger property. When everything a resident needs is
Confusion about zoning has become a very big problem. People seem to think that zoning is the holy grail that will save their communities and neighborhoods from disaster, or improve property values, and that any developer seeking to change it is somehow naturally evil. The reality is that most communities in the US today, are struggling to survive because of really bad zoning that was created 20, 30, 40, even 50 years ago. Way back then, suburban sprawl was considered a good thing; gasoline was cheap, the car was king, and new communities were developed with very rigid zoning– separating uses and thereby making the communities difficult to navigate on foot. In fact, these sprawling cities were the antithesis of “walkable” and certainly not energy efficient. Limiting height and density, which further separates amenities makes communities less walkable, bikeable, navigable, energy efficient, etc. Today, we know about climate change, rising seas, diminishing oil reserves, pollution, the need to drive less and walk more, for both health and environmental reasons. All of this requires higher density buildings on higher ground, mixed uses on the same city block, and getting rid of height and density restrictions so we can create greener, more
BY: Angela O’Byrne Perez’s proposed Holy Cross Development has generated a great deal of media engagement and speculation over the past few weeks, regarding the company, the project and myself. Most recently, The Lens published an opinion piece by Roberta Gratz, entitled “So what if Holy Cross towers defy the zoning code — it’s only the Lower Ninth.” Given the circumstances, I think it is important that I write in my own defense against these allegations, and address the outright falsities that have been spread about my company, its work and myself. We are all entitled to our own opinion; but spreading false information to support one’s opinion is unethical, and distracts from the real issues. The article includes a discussion of “authentic community opposition,” which I do not discredit. However, there is also authentic community support, which in the article, was belittled by claims that the project’s supporters are receiving payments for their attendance at committee hearings. This is completely false. There are hundreds of genuine supporters surrounding this project, as confirmed by circulating petitions in favor of this development. Many residents took the time out of their workday to express approval to the City Planning Commission, and the HDLC.
David Dixon, Chair of the AIA’s Regional and Urban Design Committee, has defended height and density at great length in his article, “What makes a Community Livable?” Dixon writes “In recent years, however, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Urban Land Institute (ULI), the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), urban think tanks, housing organizations, and many other civic groups have called for a reexamination of attitudes toward density as an essential step in fighting sprawl and enhancing the quality of life and economic opportunity for large and small communities across America.” Urban sprawl, a term used to describe the expansion of urban areas into surrounding areas like suburbs, has a negative connotation because low density structures, that go hand in hand with sprawl, are harmful to the environment. Greater pollution per person, increased traffic and general environmental conflict are common side effects when cities begin to expand into surrounding areas. High density communities combat these problems on all ends of the spectrum.Putting a greater amount of people into a space, encourages amenities to be built within walking distance of those spaces- coffee shops, small businesses, recreational programs, etc. As these developments grow, the need and demand for cars decreases.
When the Holy Cross school was moved to its now historic site on Dauphine Street in 1879, it was built with a purpose- to house paying students. No one told them they couldn’t build. In 1895, when the administration building was dedicated, no one complained about the height or said the building was too tall. Nor was anyone there to regulate the building’s height; there were no historic regulations, there were no height restrictions. But now, 130 years later, when the historical administration building is in disrepair and no one is, or has been, attending the school for years, a few residents who live in the district suddenly have a problem with height. No one has ever paid mind to the height of the bell tower or noticed that the buildings are standing at 67 feet already (27 feet taller than the current zone restriction of 40 feet). Suddenly now, 8 more feet is completely outlandish because someone declared that only buildings standing at 40 feet can be historical. Most neighborhoods didn’t have height restrictions when they were being developed and built over 130 years ago. This new height cap now restricts the creation of new history, regardless of the
In the late 1970s, Mr. Perez decided to put his offices in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. Anyone who was around at that time knows, the Warehouse District was nothing like it is today. It was an area filled with crime, scant economic activity and vacant properties. Mr. Perez saw something no one else saw. After the company renovated an old, 3 story warehouse on Fulton St., the area slowly picked up, and after gaining economic stimulation and a decent population count, it eventually became the scene it is today- a thriving, prosperous community. Mr. Perez knew what it took to ignite a flame, and although everyone thought he was crazy at the time, his instinct was spot on- be the first to put your own dime in the pot, and others will too. Just ten years down the road, the Warehouse district was and is a destination for people around the city and the world. Perez, APC is a multi-discipline firm with years and years of experience. The company was the developer and owner of Chateau LeMoyne, Crowne Plaza and almost a dozen other hotels in downtown New Orleans. In fact, Perez, APC is responsible for half of
Many fail to realize the numerous benefits of constructing higher, more dense buildings. In 2011, Harvard Economics Professor Edward Glaeser gave a speech on his book, Triumph of the City: how our greatest invention makes us richer, smarter, greener, healthier and happier, and explained why developments are being built up, not out. “One of the reasons we want to rethink height is because of the environment as well, because in fact, those skyscrapers can be pretty green, high density living can be pretty green.” Tall buildings are not just environmentally friendly for the green space they allow. Systems like water, heat, cooling, waste disposal, trash etc., are all more cost efficient when they are being managed in a smaller area. If water has less distance to travel and fewer twists and turns in pipe-structure, less energy is used to push water through those pipes. Water distribution systems structured vertically are efficient because less energy is wasted on pushing the water across, when gravity can easily pull it down. Heating and cooling systems would benefit just the same. Pushing cold or hot air through fewer square feet is more cost efficient than heating or cooling an entire house when only a
Resurrecting a city will never be an easy task—devastation on such a broad spectrum cannot be quickly reversed. Change is slow, people have opinions and no one likes to feel uncomfortable; but progression and development come with a cost. Not everyone can be happy. We’ve had volunteers come and rebuild and organizations help in various forms. Celebrities have come and gone, and developers have tried and left. Perez, APC is not just any developer, they are a developer with headquarters in New Orleans. Perez, APC is not going anywhere. Yes, the apartment buildings are a little taller than the houses and the plans are not identical to the historical theme the neighborhood used to have, but that’s just it—the Holy Cross neighborhood “used to” have historical structures in it, now in it’s place is blight and vandalism. We understand that the neighborhood holds historical value in New Orleans—that’s why we are trying to enhance it. Why are some stuck on the old history of the area? The history got washed away, and now it is time to make our own history. If one thing is for certain, it’s that we can’t rely solely on the government to rebuild the Lower
A commonly-voiced concern from residents of the Lower 9th is that the redevelopment may cause traffic. Considering the community, Perez, APC launched a study to figure out what exactly they could do to ensure a smooth flow in and out of the neighborhood. The “Conclusions and Recommendations” section of the study has been clipped and can be found below. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS A comparison of the traffic analysis output reports based on the Highway Capacity Manual methodology for the existing Year 2013 scenario, Year 2020 Background scenario and Year 2020 Post Development scenario demonstrates that the study intersections are expected to operate within acceptable LOS thresholds through the analysis period. The existing roadway network in the vicinity of the proposed site is expected to adequately accommodate the development and natural growth of the area. No significant increase in delay was noted at the study intersections. It should also be noted, that the residential component (as per the ITE Trip Generation Manual) used for trip generation estimation purposes for this mixed-use development was apartments. It is anticipated that a few years subsequent to the 2020 build out year; the low-rise apartments may be converted into condominiums. The site traffic generated by