Revive & Thrive
By Jessica Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
In less than a year, an aquamarine rectangle along a stately 7th Ward road will be transformed.
The structure, a former grocery-turned-nightclub, will gain refurbished doors and windows. Its concrete block and stucco exterior will be carefully preserved and refreshed. And New Orleans’ “only true reggae club,” as proprietor Alvin Reece calls it, will gain an outdoor terrace for patrons’ pleasure.
For Club Caribbean and six other establishments along Bayou Road slated for revamping, the improvements are a way to attract customers impressed by restored architecture and freshly painted façades.
For the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority — the agency writing the checks for most of the work — it is one piece of a much larger project: a plan to breathe life into four of the city’s commercial corridors and preserve the history they embody.
By: Robin Shannon, Managing Editor October 30, 2015
The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority has committed more than $940,000 to a program that is helping business owners restore and revitalize storefronts along targeted commercial corridors throughout the city.
Melissa Sawyer founded the Youth Empowerment Project in 2004 in 1,200 square feet of rented space in Central City, a poor black neighborhood a mile southwest of the French Quarter. Her budget was $235,000, a combination of local grants and a state contract to help 25 young people caught up in the criminal-justice system.
Today, the nonprofit has a $3.5-million operating budget. It owns its headquarters on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, a resurgent commercial corridor, and serves up to 800 youths annually, providing education, and job- and life-skills programs.
The accelerant was a burst of philanthropic dollars in New Orleans in the years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita roared through, overwhelmed the levee system, and caused catastrophic flooding.
"We have grown so much over the last 11 years," Ms. Sawyer says. "Quite frankly, I don’t know where we would have been if Katrina hadn’t happened."