Advisory Services Panel — New Orleans, Louisiana

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Date: March 12-18, 2005
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Chair: Smedes York
Subject Area: Disaster Recovery, Economic Development, Sustainable Development

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The Assignment
New Orleans is at a crossroads. Even as the initial stages of recovery are underway, experience suggests that it is essen-tial to develop a redevelopment plan within the first 90 to 120 days following a disaster. The failure to create an imme-diate and forward-thinking plan can result in scattered, un-coordinated, dysfunctional redevelopment; an ineffective in-frastructure policy; and a greatly impaired urban fabric. To help the city respond to the need to develop a plan now, ULI assembled expert teams and an advisory panel of eco-nomic development, financial, design, redevelopment, land use, and urban planning professionals to work with Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s Bring New Orleans Back Commission, the city, and its business, community, political, and civic leaders to develop a process for the redevelopment of the city based on sound planning principles, strong economic development ideals, and a practical implementation strategy. ULI was asked to develop an overall framework for the city’s rebuild-ing process so that the city leaders can begin to develop de-tailed plans and strategies for its future.

Key Findings
Key Findings The panel’s key findings include the following:

  • New Orleans is a national and international treasure. The culture of the city-including its history, music, art, food, faith, and strong sense of neighborhood-must be retained and enhanced. The urge to homogenize the city must be resisted.
  • The heart of the city is its people. Without them, New Orleans would be just another city.
    There must be a sense of urgency to msve forward. Basic services such as electricity and health care must be re-stored immediately. Mold removal is essential.
  • Diversity, equity, and cooperation are of critical impor-tance. The recovery must not be held back by the racial is-sues that have slowed progress in the past.
  • Every citizen has the right to return to a safe city.
  • Planning for the rebuilding of each neighborhood must involve the citizens from that neighborhood.
    The city needs diverse economic development and hous-ing. Jobs and housing will be the backbone of the city’s re-birth. Job training and an improved education system are criticaL In addition, the panel endorses the concept of a livable wage.
  • New Orleans must be protected from future hurricanes. The city must continue to lobby for an improved levee system and enhance natural ecosystem protection.
  • An organizational structure that will support the quest for federal funding is mandatory.
    Business leadership must work in partnership with government.
  • Many of the city’s infrastructure issues are regional in scope and should be addressed as such.

Key Recommendations
Key Recommendations The panel makes the following key recommendations:

  • The formation of a redevelopment corporation, which the panel has named the Crescent City Rebuilding Corpora-tion, will help the city move forward in its rebuilding ef-forts. The focus of this organization should be on the redevelopment of the city. The panel believes the corpo-ration will be instrumental in obtaining the federal assis-tance the city needs to rebuild.
  • The creation of a temporary oversight committee-similar to those that were put in place in New York, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities-will help the city weather the current financial crisis.
    A diversified economic development strategy that takes into account and builds upon those businesses and indus-tries present prior to Katrina, as well as those that may be appropriate in a renewed city, is critical to the city’s rede-velopment.
  • The city should be rebuilt in a strategic manner. Areas that sustained minimal dan1age should be encouraged to begin rebuilding immediately, while those with more extensive damage will need to evaluate the feasibility of reinvest-ment first and then proceed expeditiously in a manner that will ensure the health and safety of the residents of each neighborhood.
  • People who cannot rebuild should be given fair compensa-tion for their property.
  • A regional approach needs to be taken for some key issues, such as levees, transportation, environmental restoration, emergency response, and economic development. Now is the time for the city to work with its neighbors to ensure a stronger New Orleans region. This report details the panel’s findings and recommenda-tions as presented in New Orleans on November 18, 2005.
  • A regional approach needs to be taken for some key issues, such as levees, transportation, environmental restoration, emergency response, and economic development. Now is the time for the city to work with its neighbors to ensure a stronger New Orleans region. This report details the panel’s findings and recommenda-tions as presented in New Orleans on November 18, 2005.

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