20 FEBRUARY 2008 PRESERVATION IN PRINT PRC'S OPERATION COMEBACK ALSO BUILDING Operation Comeback to Build First Katrina Co by Pam Bryan, PRC's Operation Comeback director "I claim that our city as a whole is an education." — Thucydides, writing c. 400 B.C. about Athens M AR Y F I T ZP A TR IC K On December 14, 2007, the Historic District Landmarks Commission made an important decision about affordable, his- torically sensitive, new construc- tion by approving Operation Comeback's request to build Katrina Cottages in Holy Cross. The commission approved five 0C-submitted designs for con- temporary new construction. S ingle family, one-and two-story homes will soon go up on vacant lots acquired by PRC's Operation Comeback (OC) through the City of New Orleans' adjudication process. All of them are in compliance with the Historic District Landmarks Commission's ( HDLC) rules and regulations and fit in with the 19th-century ambiance of the neighborhood. At the same time the designs include green features and contemporary styling. PRC executive director Patty Gay and Andres Duany, principal, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co., discuss the role of good planning in the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina in a meeting soon after the storm. "Naturally, PRC's focus is on restoring historic build- ings," says executive director Patricia Gay, "but when we're faced with vacant lots it's important to set an example for new construction. That's why we decided to build these designs in Holy Cross where we have been renovating historic houses and constructing infill hous- ing since 2002." Miami-based Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. (DPZ) and Marianne Cusato collectively designed the three houses to be constructed at 5205 Dauphine, 500 Lizardi, and 626 St. Maurice streets, while local architects David Gregor, Irene Neil, and Wayne Troyer, of Wayne Troyer Architects, submitted the approved design for 501 Andry St., which is directly across from Global Green USA's Holy Cross Project. Competitive bidding for the construction has begun with efforts to start the building in February 2008. The timing of the HDLC decision means that OC will be the first organization to build the highly debated Katrina Cottage in an HDLC historic district. In a recent conversation with architect/planner Andres Duany, he said that a portion of DPZ/Cusato designs had been selected for 75 replacement houses in Jackson Barracks to be built by Cypress Realty Partners LLC. That project has not broken ground yet, but Ben Dupuy, a partner of Cypress Realty, confirmed that his company received a grant of $74.5 million from FEMA, as part of the Alternative Housing Pilot Program, to pro- vide the funds to build 500 Katrina Cottages, inclusive of infrastructure and utilities in Louisiana. Providing affordable housing on vacant lots and reno- vating unoccupied and blighted properties for homebuyers remain OC's top priority. Yet, applying contemporary construction to historic properties can create potential conflicts when placed under the scrutiny of building and zoning restrictions. The vernacular technology of the DPZ/Cusato Katrina Cottage follows the con- ventional building prac- tice of the New Orleans- style shotgun complete with stoops, porches, louvered shutters and high ceilings while the Gregor/Neil/Troyer design displays a modern interpretation of the tra- ditional Creole cot- tage. In an unequivocal victory for affordable housing, the Architectural Review Committee of the HDLC recommended conceptual approval with specific condi- tions for both the Troyer and DPZ/Cusato designs submitted by OC. OP11ONAL A The clever and traditionally-inspired Katrina Cottage KC612 design met with approval at the HDLC's Architectural Review Committee. A variant on the design, KC1080, will also be built. www.pravo.org