August 14, 2007

GO Zone Projects Not Coming to New Orleans

Ed Blakely calls foul:
Projects in New Orleans are getting only a tiny fraction of the low-interest bond money aimed at jump-starting Louisiana's post-Katrina economy, and officials plan to ask for a larger share, commensurate with the city's massive flood damage, recovery director Ed Blakely recently told a City Council panel.

Blakely's beef relies on the numbers: Just one New Orleans GO Zone project has gotten off the ground. That project, listed on State Bond Commission records as "Carrollton Revitalization," has a price tag of $4.5 million. That amounts to 0.1 percent of the $4.5 billion in projects that have received final approval from the commission.

As usual, when someone from the city calls foul, someone from the state calls fouler:
Kling also said the anemic amount of GO Zone money headed to New Orleans thus far is in large part due to a lack of applications, not because the city has been passed over in favor of other locales. Overall, the Bond Commission has received applications worth about $12.8 billion.
Yesterday, the GO Zone story was the condos in Tuscaloosa. Possibly related to that, via Hurricane Radio, I read in the comments to this post that Louisiana has built some college-related condos with GO Zone money as well:
$5 million in Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds for the Louisiana Community Development Authority to finance the cost of a 35-acre apartment, retail and condominium development adjacent to Tiger Stadium.
The only project close to Tiger Stadium that I could find was this:
LSU fans weary of returning to New Orleans after a Tiger game will soon have an option that lets them enjoy the spirit of the game for a weekend or longer.

Birmingham, Ala.-based Capstone Development Corp. plans to build FieldHouse Baton Rouge, a luxury sports-themed condominium to be built at the north gates of Louisiana State University, less than half a mile from Tiger Stadium.
Now, the bonds were approved for the LCDA, one of the largest issuers of tax-exempt financings in the state. So, if the Fieldhouse project is benefiting from GO Zone bonds, I don’t think anything nefarious is going on here. I just found that interesting.

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