City-parish a finalist for $30 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Grant

Originally published by The Advocate

City-parish officials this month will host a delegation of representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the pursuit of a $30 million grant that has been targeted for an ambitious transformation project for a historically neglected Baton Rouge corridor west of Lobdell Boulevard.

HUD leaders will be in Baton Rouge Feb. 20 to meet with officials from the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, the parish's Redevelopment Authority and the mayor's office for a site visit to gain a better understanding of the city's proposed rehabilitation plans for the East Fairfield, Smiley Heights and Melrose East community. 

It was announced early this week the city-parish is among four finalists for HUD's $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant. 

The city-parish intends to leverage the grant to create more than $335.5 million in planned investments for the neighborhood. The community-driven transformation plan involves public and private investments designed to revitalize abandoned properties, improve connectivity to community assets and job centers along with introducing a mix of housing and retail/commercial uses to restore the neighborhood's vitality.   

"The Ardendale transformation encompasses all of these key areas and is vital to the transformation of the community," Housing Authority Executive Director J. Wesley Daniels, Jr. said in a news release. 

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the plan focuses on "the cradle to college-employment model" while incorporating arts, culture, health and wellness. 

"We look forward to showcasing our plans for these new initiatives on Feb. 20," Broome said in the release. 

HUD is expected to announce the Implementation Grant Award recipients in March.