But the important thing to know about the big shiny things is that they're, not exactly fantasy, but only partially realized big ideas Kabacoff gets to talk about in order to dress up the one part of this circus that's actually underway.
Iberville is the one project in Kabacoff’s plan where he can point to tangible progress.Put all the breathless talk about "transformative visions" for a new downtown aside and what you're left with is a publicly subsidized plan to move the poors out of the way so Pres Kabacoff can charge higher rents on valuable property.
Earlier this month, workers in hard hats began demolishing Iberville under a contract awarded to HRI by the Landrieu administration and the Housing Authority of New Orleans.
On a recent morning, Kabacoff stood by a chain-link fence with a “Keep Out” sign and explained the plan over the sound of hammering. The sprawling complex contains 820 units in 75 separate buildings. HRI is tearing down 59 buildings, keeping those on Bienville and Marais Streets to reintroduce the street grid.
Once completed, Iberville would include about 890 units of mixed-income housing in new and renovated buildings owned by a partnership with HRI in charge.
The 400 or so remaining residents at Iberville are being relocated by HANO, Kabacoff said. Many of the elderly will move to the former Texaco building on Canal Street. It, too, is now owned by HRI and its partners.
Kabacoff said Iberville’s new buildings will have four floors and will evoke the Storyville era. Prices will accommodate a range of incomes, including former public housing residents, people making less than $30,000 per year and those willing to pay what the market will bear — perhaps $1,400 per month for a two-bedroom place.
“Density is good as long as you don’t concentrate the poor,” Kabacoff said, shifting into developer mode. Because Iberville abuts the French Quarter, “this is as good a location as you can have in New Orleans.”