[StBernard] Controversial Apartment Complex Makes Headlines Again

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Thu Jun 9 08:22:21 EDT 2011

Controversial Apartment Complex Makes Headlines Again

Photo With Racial Slur Appeares On One Of Buildings, Group Says

POSTED: 12:14 am CDT June 9, 2011

UPDATED: 1:53 am CDT June 9, 2011

CHALMETTE, La. -- A controversial $60 million mixed income apartment
development in St. Bernard Parish is making headlines again after a racial
slur appeared on one of the buildings.

The photo of the racial slur was spotlighted last Thursday in federal court.
The head of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center said it
illustrates the racial undercurrent of the opposition to the mixed income
development and he said a voicemail recording further demonstrates that. The
parish, meanwhile, is questioning the timing of their release.

This picture was presented as evidence in federal court last week. The
racial slur was painted on one of the buildings in Chalmette two months ago.
The graffiti is gone, but James Perry with the Greater New Orleans Fair
Housing Action Center said it paints a picture of what still exists in St.
Bernard Parish.

"It makes clear right here that there is racial animism that is forcing the
parish council to try and kill affordable housing opportunities in St.
Bernard Parish," said Perry.

Perry's group has been battling the parish for the rights to build, taking
leaders to court over the issue of the 'blood relative ordinance' in the
parish that made it illegal to rent a home to someone who wasn't a family
member, which a federal court ruled discriminatory.

Perry said a recorded message left at Texas-based developer Provident
Realty's offices further proves the point that said: "Please, we're begging
you down here--don't build a n***** project in St. Bernard parish. We don't
need it. We have enough rental garbage down here as it is. For 400 years,
St. Bernard Parish has been white, French Spanish. No ni*****, we like no
n******, please keep it that way."

"Obviously, it's offensive and we don't condone it," St. Bernard Parish
president, Craig Taffaro said.

Taffaro said it's never been an issue of race, and he questions the reasons
why the photo has only recently appeared.

"Provident themselves didn't take any steps to say to the sheriff's office,
district attorney or any law enforcement, we need your assistance. That
gives me cause to believe that there is something else going on here. Is
this something someone planted to stir up something that really doesn't
exist?" said Taffaro.

Real estate broker, Dana Arcement, agreed. She lives next door to one of the
four units under construction, and said her homeowners' association sued the
developer for failing to have the proper building permits.

"We have made a lot of complaints with the Department of Environmental
Quality about drainage. In fact, as recently as today, they have clogged up
the drainage canal with the sand that ran off from all the rain we had last
night. Provident has just fast-tracked this whole development, so they could
get in front of Judge Ginger Berrigan and say, 'Look judge, look how far
we've come. You cannot tear this down now,'" Arcement said.   The
developer declined to comment.   Federal Judge Ginger Berrigan has
found the Parish in contempt of court and denied its request for a cease and
desist order. The developer hopes to have a certificate of occupancy in
place for the buildings by the end of this year. The battle in court
continues next week.

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