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Monday, April 19, 2021

Bayou Grand Construction

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Shreveport’s Choice Neighborhoods brings life to Allendale

Ground has been broken, and work is being done on the next phase of Shreveport’s Choice Neighborhoods development — Bayou Grande, near the corner of Caddo and Common streets downtown.

This phase will include 68 multifamily apartments near downtown Shreveport in Allendale. Amenities include granite countertops, new appliances and wood floors in the units, as well as a swimming pool, fitness center and community lounges.

“I’m excited,” said Tracey Graham, bureau chief of special programs and Choice Neighborhoods Implementation manager for the city of Shreveport. “These are not going to look any different than any other apartment complex.”

Residents will pay based on their income. This portion of the project is expected to be completed late this year.

Two phases of the development are already complete, Renaissance at Allendale and Cora Allen, Graham said. Future phases of the project include more residential units, retail space and other amenities, and living space for seniors.

When complete, the mixed-income and mixed-use development will include about 328 housing units. Funding for the project comes from a $24.2 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Graham said the total investment in the project is about $140 million in leveraged and targeted investments.

Planning for the development included input from residents, Shreveport Green, Shreveport Regional Arts Council and other interested parties. Many of the ideas have been implemented.

“When you are building housing, you think of the people,” Graham said. “They wanted to have grills and green spaces. They wanted a toddler play area and an urban farm. Everything that can be offered.”

The Choice Neighborhoods program is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development initiative. According to HUD’s website, the program “leverages significant public and private dollars to support locally driven strategies that address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation.”

The city of Shreveport will partner with Volunteers of America and others to further assist residents.

“The original Choice Neighborhood grant is divided into three areas: housing, neighborhood and people,” said Diane Libro, program coordinator with VOA. “It really is a holistic approach to community development. It’s not just putting up pretty buildings and making the neighborhood look nice.”

Libro said VOA’s mission will be to serve residents’ education, employment and health-care needs. VOA will leverage its expertise in case management and partner with agencies like Goodwill for employment services and MLK Health Center to health-care needs to meet those goals. VOA also will assist residents with educational resources.

The holistic approach will not only create a stronger neighborhood, but stronger neighbors, Libro said.

“It’s not just the projects as we knew them,” she said. “If they do better, they don’t have to leave their community. It really addresses some of those issues of housing in the past.”

According to the city’s Choice Neighborhood’s webpage, the Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments (NLCOG) and the city of Shreveport were awarded a Choice Neighborhood Planning Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2010 to begin an integrated, comprehensive and inclusive planning process for the Allendale, Ledbetter Heights and West Edge neighborhoods. The planning grant enabled the coapplicants to bring together residents and local stakeholders to develop strategies that address housing, neighborhood and social/education issues to improve the quality of life and well-being of the community.

The Shreveport Choice Neighborhood planning area encompasses 1,736 acres (2.7 square miles) immediately west of downtown Shreveport. It contains two HUD-assisted properties: the site of the former Jackson Heights public housing development, which had 270 units on 11.6 acres, and the currently operating but outdated Galilee Majestic Arms Section 202 senior housing development with 75 units.

Jackson Heights was demolished in 2006, and its location on the border of Allendale and Ledbetter Heights is a prime redevelopment opportunity to catalyze additional investment in both neighborhoods. Galilee Majestic Arms requires extensive rehabilitation to meet contemporary standards of maintenance and amenities. The planning process included strategies to address these sites and the current residents as well as residents and opportunities throughout the planning area.

Graham said residents displaced from the demolition of the Jackson Heights housing would have the first opportunity to live in this community.

“It’s been 14 years,” she said. “Many of those residents have moved on and are living in housing they are fine with.”

Libro said VOA already has engaged residents in the area.

“We’ve been talking to them, saying, ‘It’s coming,’” she said. “Now look. It’s real. Everyone is super excited. We’re proud to be a part of something that has the potential to transform this neighborhood. If you had driven around it about six months ago, there was nothing there anymore. It was sort of haunted. It’s coming back to life. I think it will be a better life than anyone had thought about before.”

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