The developer of a 208-unit apartment complex in the Lower Garden District near the Pontchartrain Expressway will receive a tax break to build workforce housing. The Annunciation development is coming up on the site of a former Schwegmann's grocery store, between Melpomene and Thalia streets.It says "workforce housing." But that can mean anything or even nothing depending on what the developer decides. Note, they don't seem to be required to do anything.
Instead of property taxes, Ohio-based Edwards Communities will make a direct annual payment to the city for 12 years for the property in the 1300 block of Annunciation Street. The Industrial Development Board approved the incentive Tuesday (Dec. 12) known as a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT.
Mike Sherman, an attorney for the developer, said Edwards would set aside 10 apartments as rent-restricted, although it wasn't a requirement for the project to receive the incentive or design approval from the city. The Annunciation was envisioned as a workforce housing development, targeting renters who make from 80 percent to 120 percent of the area's median income, Sherman said. According to the most recent federal government calculations, the median household income for the New Orleans metropolitan statistical area was $48,343 in 2015.If they live up to this non-mandated pledge, all we'll see is 10 "rent-restricted" units. Again, that could mean anything or nothing. We are asked to "envision" rents based on 80 to 120 percent of $48,000. (The median income in Orleans Parish itself is closer to $35,000.) If we assume the standard 30% of household income definition of cost-burdensome rent, then that means these 10 apartments could cost anything from $960 to $1440 a month. Nothing on that spectrum strikes me as especially affordable. Maybe when I get one of those sweet DXC jobs things will be different, but for now, it's pretty tight. Not that any of this matters. The important thing was they wanted to give somebody a tax break so they did.
Still, I'm sure we'll hear about how this as another example of how LaToya's New Orleans gives "incentives" to the "landlord community" to help neighborhoods "find balance." They really are doing all they can do.