Originally published by The Advocate
Old South Baton Rouge is getting 46 new homes — some apartments, some duplexes, some single family homes — as part of the latest effort to revitalize the historic neighborhood where poverty has taken hold.
Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker, Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Murray and Partners for Progress Chief Operating Officer J. Daniels made the announcement Wednesday, standing on a plot of land at the intersection of Glacier Street and Oklahoma Street that will soon become an apartment complex.
The housing developments will cost $9.8 million to build, which they are paying for with a combination of Louisiana Housing Corporation tax credits, the private debt from the tax credits, Housing Authority money and Community Development Block Grants.
Despite the Housing Authority’s involvement in the creation of the housing units, they wanted them to have a combination of affordable and market rate options to create mixed income developments.
“It’s really going to serve as a catalyst and change for Old South Baton Rouge,” Wicker said.
The River South apartments, which will go on Glacier and Oklahoma, will have 18 units with two or three bedrooms each. Prospective tenants, regardless of whether they are low-income or looking for market rate housing, will have to go to the apartment complex’s leasing office to apply to live there, Daniels said.
The wait list for River South has not opened up yet, but Murray said he expects demand to be high. Anyone can apply to live in the new units, regardless of whether they are a current resident of Old South Baton Rouge, but Daniels said they especially want to encourage Old South Baton Rouge residents to apply.
The remainder of the 46 housing units will be scattered through Old South Baton Rouge, on places including Highland Road and Washington Street.
While political leaders have talked over the past year about the need for economic development in north Baton Rouge, Old South Baton Rouge is often forgotten. The neighborhood between LSU and downtown Baton Rouge used to be a thriving and multi-ethnic hub that entertainers dropped by when they were in town.
It changed in the 1960s, when Interstate 10 was built through Old South Baton Rouge, and desegregation led to many of its longtime residents moving to other parts of the city. Since then, the community has been lower income and crime there has increased.
Wicker, the Housing Authority and other community activists say they want to reverse that trend. The Housing Authority has also recently built a small neighborhood off Thomas H. Delpit Drive.
Wicker said she plans to host a developer’s tour of Old South Baton Rouge in the next week to drum up more private interest in redeveloping the community.