Andrew Amacker 
Member since Oct 28, 2013


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Re: “The redevelopment of Freret Street

Mr. Russell,

Let's clarify a few things for the record, because this is not the first time, nor I'm sure will it be the last time that these arguments are put forth against what was done on Freret Street. Let's call out a few points to set the record straight.

1) "The takeover of Freret street was politically orchestrated at a time when many indigenous residents had not yet returned or too busy to engage."

- Actually, the policies which led to the redevelopment of Freret Street were resident driven over the course of approximately 5 years (early 2006 - 2010). The planning meetings, which took place during much of 2006, were hosted by the neighborhood association and a non-profit with deep roots in the Freret neighborhood with no supervision from the city, state, or federal government. The many hundreds of people that attended the meetings and gave input would likely disagree with the assertion that residents has no input. As a person who participated in or hosted those meetings and authored the final recovery plan, I'm in a unique position to say what actually happened. But of course, you don't have to take my word for it, if you would like some second opinions ask Glennis Scott or Mrs. Boucree, I'm sure you and your family know one of them.

2) "For instance, the most needed business on Freret St., expressed by neighbors, was for a Grocery Store supermarket. A flourishing community must have the basic essentials for sustainability, restaurants do no support the residential households. Truth is the restaurants should have been in-fill following essential neighborhood services."

- Yes, a grocery store was the most requested service and it was something that we tried very hard to get. The problem was in the post-Katrina landscape there were no options for stores to attract. Most of your small local chains were hit hard and unable to expand, or simply unwilling to do so. Additionally, the small building sizes and limited parking made the corridor unattractive to regional and national chains. The standard counter-argument is "but we had a grocery before on Freret Street", but the truth is the types of buildings that grocers are looking for have changed since Wagners and Canal-Villere. So, we took a realistic approach and figured out what kind of businesses could we attract, hence the corridor is as is today. In an ideal world, you would be right and we would have a grocery and greater business diversity, but you have to start somewhere. Also it is unfair to compare the contributions of a business which has been established for a decade or two versus one that is only a couple of years old (as most businesses on Freret are)

3) "The new, highly praised, Freret Street, has no:
a. grocery stores to satisfy all nutrition and home needs - Discussed before, Las Acasias was the best available.
b. gas stations - There haven't been gas stations on Freret for years and the three spots which used to house "twin pump" gas stations are not particularly viable for the modern market as far as size and location
c. clothing stores - We've gotten to the point where there is a plus sized boutique on Freret Street, if you want more clothing stores support the one we have and more will come.
d. banks - None were interested, they all want drive-throughs these days
e. variety stores - Bloomingdeals is what we have for variety stores for now.
f. laundries - That is true, the nearest laundromat is across Napoleon
g. pharmacies - Walgreens is in the neighborhood (CVS is pretty close too)
h. appliance stores - Same size problems and the grocery stores.
i. credit union - (See also "Bank")

4) "Observations and verbal assessment of known residents of the community for 30+ years indicate little or no communication from the un-named community leaders regarding developments."

- Hi, my name is Andrew Amacker, and I am the current president of Neighbors United (which would be the neighborhood association covering the Freret Area). We have our meetings on the second Tuesday of each month from 6 - 7:30 PM at Samuel J. Green Charter School. We'd love to have you at the meetings so you can also put a face to the name.

Posted by Andrew Amacker on 10/28/2013 at 12:33 AM

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