Community Development Block Grant
New Orleans, LA - Mayor Marc Morial
The Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans is likely the first African-American neighborhood in the country. Many believe jazz originated there. But despite its history, Tremé, which is adjacent to the French Quarter, had become a blighted, crime-ridden neighborhood. In the 1990s, reclaiming the 170-year-old plantation parcel became an important goal for New Orleans. Applying its Impact Neighborhood Strategy to Tremé, the City has overseen redevelopment efforts in the area overall, and has focused the investment of both public and private funds in many key individual properties.
Anchoring the renewal effort is the Tremé Villa Meilleur which today houses the New Orleans African-American Museum of Art, Culture and History and is a public venue for the visual and performing arts. Arguably the finest example of Creole Villa construction in New Orleans, this architectural jewel had been divided into apartments, and had fallen into disrepair. The City purchased it in September 1991 and, in partnership with HUD, combined $1.2 million of Community Development Block Grant funds with resources from several local banks for the renovation.
The rehabilitation of owner-occupied housing units is central to the City's strategy for bringing back this neighborhood. City officials help residents cut through red tape and find the help they need to purchase and renovate properties. Rehabilitation of well over half of the owner-occupied units in Tremé now has been completed; many have been purchased by the City and sold, mostly to first-time home buyers; and work continues on those remaining - with Tremé residents being given priority to acquire them.
The City also has provided funds to a partner in the neighborhood which operates a tool library from which homeowners can borrow hand tools, provides a course in home repair for homeowners, and manages a community restaurant. The Tremé Corner Café is run by young high school dropouts who are provided training in running a business while working toward a GED.
Phase II of the Villa includes a walking museum with placards pointing out historical features of Tremé, and work is underway on a second museum which will pay tribute to the Mardi Gras Indians, and on an old house which will serve as the Tremé Tourism Center. A facility which will house a gallery and studios on the first floor and apartments for artists and others on the second is planned, and a non-historic complex that had become a drug haven is being torn down to create a parking lot which will also accommodate an open-air artists' market. One building from that complex will be occupied by an arts-related African dance program and by an ice cream parlor and pastry shop which will be operated by high school dropouts.
Contact: Vincent Sylvain, Executive Assistant to the Mayor, Division of Housing and Neighborhood Development, (504) 565-6410
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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