Sunday, September 25, 2005

Rebuilding: I hate to say I told you so...

Maggie says:
A week ago I wrote an overly long, rambling post that read like a stream-of-consciousness outpouring of all my frustrations and worries about the New Orleans rebuilding efforts. I don't blame you for not reading the whole thing. It was kind of like therapy writing, really.

But for professional, succint writing, let's look to Newsweek. They've been doing an excellent job covering the rebuilding process. Last week, they took a look at the three, $100 million+ no-bid rebuilding contracts that went to Shaw, Fleur, and Bechtel. This week, we have an inside look at the real plans for New Orleans. And sadly, they reek of my biggest fears: that developers - helped by huge corporations favored by the administration - are planning on turning New Orleans into a gentrified paradise. In other words: no former low-income residents welcome back.

Read this for the horrifying proof:

Over regular dinners in Baton Rouge restaurants like Gino's, an Italian eatery featuring recently transplanted musicians from the Big Easy, the heads of law firms and tourist businesses and conservation groups have been meeting with big real-estate developers. These men have started to outline a vision of a smaller, more upscale Crescent City.

One of the most ambitious plans, called Operation Rebirth, is aimed at creating a "vital center" of New Orleans. Pres Kabacoff, a well-known local developer, spoke to NEWSWEEK about re-creating New Orleans as "an Afro-Caribbean Paris." In addition to building a movie studio, new museums and a light-rail line, he wants to tear down the poor and almost entirely black Iberville housing project (situated close to the French Quarter) and replace it with low-rise, mixed-income, racially diverse housing. Such plans are "very sensitive politically," he readily acknowledges...