DHS Seal - FEMA    
FEMA Section 106 Notices for Louisiana
Comment on "Public Notice NHPA/NEPA1
Seeking Public Comment for FEMA Funded Construction
of the Mazant-Royal Housing Development,
4100 Royal Street, New Orleans
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Name: Peter Breen
City: New Orleans, LA
701 Mazant St., 70117
Comments: I live three blocks from the site (17 years) and operate a business adjacent to the site (8 years). This is an unfortunate situation for everyone nearby. We have witnessed the construction of the Saxony, a similarly sized building, (condos mainly used for Airbnb purposes) over the course of 2 years. This building is located 4 blocks away. The impact on the surrounding neighborhood was intense. Construction fencing went over the sidewalk and into the street eliminated on-street parking. Because of the height of the building cranes were used to get materials to the upper floors resulting in one or two streets being closed for an entire business day, day after day. With the building completed, it became apparent that the utility infrastructure to support such a large development was insufficient and so the street has been ripped up to upgrade all of the water and sewer service.
This sort of construction process would make our business unable to accept deliveries, get trash picked up, or allow space for employees or customers to park. We might not survive the construction process. These are common sense problems to expect when something is built out of scale from the surrounding neighborhood.
There is no doubt that there is a shortage of affordable housing in New Orleans now. The facts are that the city failed low income homeowners by raising property taxes too quickly. Limits should have existed for how much they could be raised and it what timeframe. Many people sold their houses as a result. The city failed low income renters by not confronting the short-term rental influx in a timely manner. Property owners found the short-term rental income too tempting and long-term renters(real residents) were displaced in the process. Unfortunately, these failings are being used to justify OVERBUILDING the Mazant Royal site. This is a beautiful space and should be built in a way that provides truly affordable housing (not 50 market rate units and 60% AMI units). It should be built in a way that it blends in to the surrounding neighborhood. It should be built in a way that it doesn't mandate the destruction of stately oak trees with swings hanging from their branches where children should continue to play for generations to come. As you must already know, the original plans that were bid on and supported by the neighbors called for 56 units, a mix of public and subsidized units. While this design needed to be modified to embrace the existing landscape it could have worked well within the neighborhood. The new larger size and move toward less affordability has caused the project to lose the support of the overwhelming majority of residents. Affordable housing advocates, motivated only by what they consider the upside of the somewhat affordable units, have labeled those of us opposed to the newer designs as racist. That is another unfortunate fallout from this process. We hope you will see the wisdom in recognizing that building this as planned will not solve or really put a dent in the affordable housing problem here, but it will have outsized impacts on the surrounding neighborhood and will leave no green space and shady trees for the residents of the new development to enjoy.