Friday, June 21, 2019
St. John the Baptist Parish - On June 20, 2019, Parish President Natalie Robottom, Council members Soraparu, Madere and Remondet joined Trina Sanders, Housing Authority Director, Leslie Bradley, HUD Deputy Regional Administrator for Region IV and Associate Assistant Deputy Secretary Timothy M. Smyth and Thomas LaTour and Sandra Gunner from the Office of Community Development (OCD) for a ribbon cutting ceremony for Garyville Oaks. Garyville Oaks is the result of the redevelopment of the public housing site in Garyville through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded to St. John the Baptist Parish.
Other partners of the project in attendance were Jim Grauley, President and COO of Columbia Residential, Alex Flores and Mike Hattawary with GEC, contractor Jeremy Fenn with Block Construction, and Eliza Eugene with EME Consulting Group. This was a momentous occasion so Parish staff, Sheriff Tregre, Assessor Lucien Gauff and a host of residents and pastors from the Garyville area also attended.
The redevelopment consists of 22 units of new construction in multiple two-story walk-up buildings. During construction, 15 buildings with 36 public housing units plus 1 non-dwelling building were demolished leaving room for a second phase of future development. “It is truly an exciting day and one that took a lot of time, effort and collaboration, “said Sanders.
Parish President Robottom advocated for allocating $5.3 million of the $32 million in Hurricane Isaac CDBG funds for the project. This project as well as other projects approved for parish residents and businesses is managed by OCD. Many of the buildings demolished sustained flood and wind damage from the Hurricane and were not inhabitable. HUD Deputy Regional Administrator Leslie Bradley, who spoke at the event said, “Secretary Carson said that he believes that programs such as HUD’s Rental Demonstration Program, which the St. John the Baptist Parish Housing Authority used to rebuild Garyville Oaks, are ushering this country into a new era and a new beginning.” “Today, HUD, the Housing Authority, President Robottom and the community are celebrating a compassionate coalition of public and private partners who have come together to better serve those who need us.”
Columbia Residential, a well-known housing real estate development and management company, worked with Parish staff and the Housing Authority since the project’s inception in 2014 and later joined forces with GEC and Block Construction to get it done. “It was a pleasure to work with all of the partners on this project and we are pleased to see it through to construction,” said Grauley.
An open greenspace, shaded benches and landscaping create a visually appealing community for tenants. “Garyville Oaks will be more than just a home to its residents, it will serve as a beacon of hope to the entire community. It should serve as a reminder that there first must be a vision before development is a reality,” said Parish President Robottom. “We stand proudly behind this project knowing it will have a positive impact on the future of St. John the Baptist Parish.”