Broad Connections: A Revitalization Strategy for a New Orleans Commercial Corridor *
After an unsuccessful bid to become an official Urban Main Street under the Louisiana State Main Street Program, a group of civic-minded area residents formed an ad-hoc steering committee to recruit MIT to help use post-Hurricane Katrina planning momentum to transform this vehicular thoroughfare between four vibrant neighborhoods into a new connector and destination.
- How can Broad Street become a place to linger instead of a place to pass through—attracting more pedestrians than cars?
- How can Broad Street thrive in the face of decreasing city population, poor building quality, unusually long length, and lack of attractive green space given its role as a transition space without a sense of ownership?
- How can the steering committee help it become a “self-initiated” Main Street?
- How can a planning process help a group of caring and savvy residents organize an official planning effort to effect lasting change?
Challenges were met by working closely with a group of involved citizens to engage a diverse group of residents and business owners throughout the large commercial district. The team worked to identify partnerships and create momentum to foster excitement for implementation of the corridor’s vision. Merchants and residents driven away by Hurricane Katrina were contacted and the planning process included recruitment of large, nationally-owned businesses to repopulate vacant sites. In the winter of 2013, Whole Foods announced the opening of a grocery store at the former Roberts site….a huge win for the organization tasked with implementing the plan! (http://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2013/02/whole_foods_part_of_larger_red.html)
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- Mobilized ideas and actions around the theme of “connections” to celebrate history, diversity and the vibrant culture of the surrounding four neighborhoods of Treme, Faubourg St. John, Tulane-Gravier, and Mid City
- Focused planning efforts on three strategic intersections along Broad (Bayou Road, the Lafitte Corridor, and Tulane Avenue)
- Created a high density residential development at the Lafitte Corridor Greenway to attract a regional clientele for recreation and entertainment
- Established plan to recruit a Target or other national chain to the defunct Roberts grocery site
- Introduced weekend markets and a business incubator to Bayou Road Village
- Improved signage and branding of the gateways and nodes
- Created a non-profit organization to oversee implementation of the vision
* MIT “Revitalizing Urban Main Streets” Practicum: Susan Silberberg and Karl Seidman, Lecturers