New Urbanist controversy in New Orleans - Times-Picayune

Doug MacCash cuts through the heated discussions on New Orleans’ proposed redevelopment style called New Urbanism. MacCash interviews experts in the Big Easy, some of who believe New Orleans is more or less a New Urbanist community. With New Orleans’ history of gradual change, skepticism to a ground-up master plan is high. Could New Urbanism revive the soggy city?


New Urbanism dominates rebuilding chatter
Experts disagree on using concept in N.O.
Monday, November 14, 2005
By Doug MacCash
Staff writer

...One of the Crescent City's most notable New Urbanism proponents is Pres Kabacoff, chief operating officer of Historic Restoration Inc., a development company principally known for converting unused industrial dinosaurs, such as the American Can Co. and the Federal Fiber Mills buildings, into apartment hives, with coffee shops, restaurants, dry cleaners, wine shops, workout centers, swimming pools and other on-site yuppie amenities -- a sort of old urban/New Urban synthesis.

But Kabacoff's post-Katrina vision includes more than inner-city conversions. His dreams run to a series of 10-acre, freshly built, densely populated New Urban enclaves between downtown New Orleans and Armstrong airport -- each of them a bit like one of his more controversial accomplishments: the conversion of the old St. Thomas public housing site into River Garden apartments, a mixed-income development replete with its own Wal-Mart Supercenter and, one day, a nursing home.

"New Urbanism is a good term, especially if you can relate it to transportation," Kabacoff said. "What I imagine was that you make housing throughout the city along a light railway, mixed-income communities with residences, business, even a school. Not in areas ruined by the flood, but vacant land on high ground."

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