Neighborhood Tour
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Mixed-income housing developments can change outlook of
Advocate Staff Report

Some city-parish leaders want to see East Baton Rouge Parish embrace more mixed income housing developments, pointing to the recent unveiling of 19 new two-story homes in the Zion City neighborhood as a template for future projects.

Developer Brian LaFleur partnered with the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority to buy up adjudicated properties in the Fortune Addition subdivision near Glen Oaks Middle School. He tapped a $2 million grant from the city’s Office of Community Development, eventually turning away from an initial plan to build rental units and instead constructing 19 single-family homes.

LaFleur Industries also put up $1.1 million of the company’s own funding for the threebedroom, three-bathroom homes, which are listed for between $100,000 and $140,000.

Five are expected to be sold at market-rate, while the others are affordable housing for families earning 80 percent or less of the median income in the parish.

“It’s projects like this that have the real potential to change the trajectory of a neighborhood,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in July.

Gwen Hamilton, interim director of the Redevelopment Authority, said the brick homes are high-quality, something officials said is essential in the affordable housing arena because maintenance costs can’t be too high.

In recent months, some members of the Metro Council from north Baton Rouge and other city-parish leaders have said they want to see the parish move away from development of affordable rentals north of Florida Boulevard and toward mixed-income projects in that area.

Others, however, have said that as East Baton Rouge Parish recovers from the August 2016 flood, there needs to be both mixed-income and strictly affordable housing in the works.

The nonprofit Mid City Redevelopment Alliance is working with Broome’s administration to come up with a neighborhood housing plan, which will identify blighted property and define residential density. That will help officials figure out how to plan for different kinds of developments.

For her part, Broome said the Zion City development showed the promise of creating a space where people who can afford market-rate and those who need affordable units can live in the same community.

“What you see here is part of the American dream,” she said.