Meet Angela O’Byrne, President of Perez, APC

Angela-OByrne

In 2005, just 100 days after Katrina, Angela O’Byrne hosted the Governor’s Louisiana Recovery and Rebuilding Conference to begin repairing the city. Almost 9 years later, O’Byrne hasn’t stopped rebuilding.

With the assets of Perez, APC in hand, Angela O’Byrne has now set out to rebuild the former Holy Cross school grounds, a neighborhood still in need of improvement.

“I just think it’s a great neighborhood, I don’t understand why it is so disinvested,” she said. Perez, APC has been developing plans for the grounds since 2012. “It has been largely neglected by private investors,” said O’Byrne. “Aside from my professional interest, I’ve always had a civic interest in improving the city.”

Like many others, O’Byrne has been left to wonder why such little development has taken place in the Lower 9th Ward. “This neighborhood has been the least invested in Orleans Parish,” she said.

With the desire to progress the city she calls home, O’Byrne knows that her own investment will spark growth and attract other businesses and tenants to the area. “It will spur other development and other investment. Others who are not living and working in this area will want to buy and renovate too.”

Like so many others, O’Byrne sees real opportunity for the city through the damage. What differentiates her from the rest is that she has believed in the recovery of the city all along. “We’ve had involvement in many areas of the city including the lower 9th Ward,” she said.

Angela co-founded City-Works, a neighborhood planning and advocacy organization of New Orleans, and lead the organizations for 5 of its first 7 years, during which she advocated for better urban planning in the rebuilding of the city. O’Byrne also worked on the city’s Master Plan Team, which made policies for the city’s planning and hosted countless workshops to give citizens and organizations the tools for redevelopment after Katrina.

“If not for Angela, City-Works would not exist. Without City-Works, the ability to advocate for and educate about neighborhood rebuilding in the months and years after Hurricane Katrina would have been much harder,” said Jim Livingston, City-Works former City-Works Executive Director. “Angela and City-Works provided hope and communication to thousands working individually to rebuild their homes, neighborhoods and lives.”

In 2006, O’Byrne worked on the tax credit applications for 1 billion dollars of housing for the Housing Authority of New Orleans. In 2007, she worked with 60 AIA New Orleans members pro bono to help indigent homeowners rebuild their homes.

O’Byrne spent 2009-2010 campaigning for promotion and support of New Orleans’ Master Plan, where she engaged community members for feedback. O’Byrne currently serves as a volunteer on the Harmony Neighborhood Development Board of Directors and works to fund housing and revamp physical, social and economical landscapes in the city.

In short, her investments in New Orleans have never settled, and her efforts for New Orleans have never faltered.

“If not for Angela, in the early days following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, AIA New Orleans would have collapsed,” said Wm. Raymond Manning of Manning Architects. “Her unwavering and tireless efforts were responsible for the creation of City-Works.”

A natural leader, O’Byrne saw a community in need and created aid where there was little. Her efforts are not short-term, either. “I see Holy Cross High School Redevelopment being a drive for positive change in that community,” she said. “In 20 years, I see the lower 9th Ward being not only fully restored, but also better than it ever was.”

Although O’Byrne has big plans for New Orleans, she remains realistic. “Disinvestment wasn’t an overnight thing that happened, this will take time,” O’Byrne said.

Spearheading the redevelopment of New Orleans was never an easy undertaking, but O’Byrne keeps her mind focused and continues to keep her heart in her work. “This large project will be a jumpstart for a lot of new things to happen in the Lower 9th Ward. When I make an investment it will impact the neighborhood favorably.”

After spending years of her life working to improve New Orleans, it is undeniable that Angela O’Byrne whole-heartedly believes in the recovery of the Lower 9th Ward. “I have a huge personal stake in this,” O’Byrne said. “I’m staking everything that I have on it.”