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blackcoat

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About blackcoat

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    Washington, D.C. + New Orleans, LA
  1. Over a week ago, the RTA board approved Veolia Transportation to take over management of the local transit system for the next 90 days, with an option to extend the temporary contract an addition 90 days. This time will be used to negotiate a longer management contract (current proposal: 10 years) while sorting out issues with an underfunded pension system, union contracts, and arrangements with vendors. The T-P reported in June that the RTA has financial troubles aside from the pension shortfalls, including a 70% reduction in its customer base, $200 million in debt, and an end to the post-Katrina aid from the federal government. The Veolia management team started on the job today (Monday). New schedules for the system were issued on the 12th, and I am kicking myself for not having the old ones handy in anticipation of the takeover to see what changed >_< . Anyway, Veolia's stated short term goals for the RTA system are: * "Easy Bus" service. Instead of a normal fixed-route line, customers make a reservation in advance on a 15-seat "Easy Bus", which then picks up/drops off every passenger at their door. Software aboard the vehicle maps the route for the driver on demand. 10 such buses are to service Gentilly and other sparsely populated neighborhoods. * Complete replacement of old bus fleet (!!!) * Improved streetcar service (more frequency ?) * New signs (I can't find the citation though, but I definitely read this *somewhere*) * "Infrastructure Improvements". Several articles have mentioned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), but this sounds like an exploratory plan for some time in the future. On a related note, the first of fourteen new transit shelters debuted on Canal Street. Each shelter is decorated by a local artist, and all fourteen are slated for completion before the opening of Prospect 1 on November 1st. ------------------ Recently, New Orleans City Business had a 3-part series on transit in the region, though I haven't found part 1: * Part 2: N.O. Developers See Need for Upgraded Transit System * Part 3: Money is Main Roadblock for Expanding Area Transit There is a separate examination of the flaws in RTA service, though it does not explicitly state that it is part one of the three-part series.
  2. A small bit of good news: Rouses plans to open a grocery store in the Marigny. I also have reliable word that a serious plan is in place for a grocery in the Warehouse District, but there are no public details to share at this time. Even if we don't get a shiny new tower in the CBD, perhaps we can take some comfort in the small quality of life improvements for people in the city.
  3. [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andres_Duany]Andr
  4. Today, the RTA board or directors announced its selection of Veolia Transportation to manage day-to-day operations of the RTA system. RTA is aiming to have a 3-year agreement signed within the next month, with an option to extend the contract for an additional 2 years if the RTA is pleased with Veolia's services. Veolia has expressed their desire to roll out "'rapid transit' bus routes to Uptown, Algiers and the NASA facility in eastern New Orleans and smaller buses for less-populated areas".
  5. The Times-Picayune has a lengthy piece about restoring the Lakefront Airport to its original art deco design. The restoration work will be paid for in part by FEMA.
  6. I read a rumor somewhere that 3 Canal Place would be on hold for the next year or two due to the tight credit market, but I haven't seen any concrete reporting on the project. In other news, the state moves closer toward buying the New Orleans Centre, including the Dominion Tower building. They have a 75 day inspection period, at the end of which they can walk away from the deal if they find the necessary repairs to be too costly. Also, the city has secured money for creating a "Great Lawn" in City Park as part of the city's 300-year anniversary.
  7. Here's the Times-Picayune article on the St. Charles streetcar now running on S. Carrollton. Mostly a fluff piece, but something caught my attention at the end when the RTA spokeswoman mentioned that it was running nearly 24 hours a day. The latest schedule for the St. Charles route, effective as of yesterday, has trains running from 4:15am (first train leaving downtown) to 3:07am (last arrival on Canal St.), though service is somewhat infrequent in the late night hours (scroll to the very bottom for departure times from Canal + Carondolet). Anyway, this is great news that should be celebrated by taking a ride on the streetcar.
  8. In residential news, CityBusiness is reporting that developer Andre Hooper will begin construction this summer on a 51-unit affordable apartment complex in Hollygrove.
  9. CityBusiness is also reporting that several street rehabilitation projects are underway in the Irish Channel.
  10. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development's South Louisiana Submerged Roads Program broke ground earlier today, heralding $250 million in road repairs in the New Orleans metro area (project map). What I find interesting is that the dollar figure cited in this article is $50 million more than reported in January. All resurfacing work is expected to be complete by 2014.
  11. Seems like no one has an answer on the Tina Mowe / Cliff Mowe relationship question... In other news, local firm Woodward Design+Build president Carl E. Woodward will request a $10 million bond financing for construction of a 40,000 square foot office headquarters. The site for the new building site is undetermined at this time, though it may replace their current headquarters (1019 South Dupre) or be built somewhere along Howard Avenue. Woodward will appear before the Industrial Development Board on Tuesday, May 20th, along with Nuvote LLC, who plans to 1) "turn the 12 apartment buildings at 3300 Garden Oaks Dr. into a gated community", and 2) request a $5.5 million bond to rehabilitate Lakeside apartments on Hayne Blvd.
  12. Though not directly related to new development, the Times-Picayune published a piece on expanding the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal and different opinions on the necessity of that expansion.
  13. The ambitious Laketown Master Plan has been released today. As summarized by the Times-Picayune, this ambitious development for the Kenner lakefront includes a tram line, amphitheatre, retail, condominiums, carousel, dog park, nature trail, and more. Cost estimates have not been provided, and the feasibility study for this 20-year plan is incomplete at this time.
  14. Mohan Kailas of Parish Partners LLC has put forth a plan for the Chateau Village shopping center near the Chateau Estates subdivision in Kenner. This new plan is in response to residents who opposed the previous plans for apartments and a 5-story hotel on the Chateau Village property.
  15. The portion of the site sold to Lowes is already under construction, though the rest of the project was in jeopardy as of a few months ago. Kailas had planned to finance the project by creating a special tax financing district for the site that would allow tax revenues collected at the Renaissance Towne Center to be reinvested in the project. However, the governing board put its plans for creating the tax financing district on hold after Kailas defaulted on several loans.
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