Mayor Mitch Landrieu is keeping his promise to neighbors in the Hoffman Triangle neighborhood Thursday afternoon. The city is demolishing five blighted shotgun homes in the 2700 block of South Derbigny Street, homes that were flooded during Hurricane Katrina and have set vacant ever since.
People living in the area say they're happy to see the crime magnets come crashing down, but Executives with HBO's series, "Treme" and workers with the National Trust for Historic Preservation are begging the Mayor to consider not going through with the demolition.
The row of homes set for destruction, are the exact homes featured on HBO's advertising posters and Season 1 DVD cover.
"We were looking at this row of five houses which is featured prominently in all the national promotional material that’s going up for HBO’s Treme. So there’s a nationwide audience out there seeing this row of shotguns with a little boy in front and it’s unfortunate that the symbolic row of houses is being torn down by the city when they should be rehabilitated. We feel the better route, the more creative route, the route a real leader would take, would be to stabilize these houses, board them up first, make sure they are not a treat, then get these properties to auction," said Bradley Vogel with the National Trust For Historic Preservation.
But people who live in the area say those houses and thousands others in the city attract criminal activity like drugs and sex crimes. Vagrants often set up camp in the structures creating more problems. And it's a danger to kids who play in the area because Taylor Park is directly across the street.
“Since Katrina you know there are so many vacant houses that are on the streets and our kids you know are passing through. We have people going in and out of those houses, using substances and drugs and things like that so I’m glad to see this coming down because it’s going to be a better environment," said Kathy Beasley, a local resident who runs at Taylor Park everyday.
The Mayor's press secretary, Ryan Berni, says the city has set aside 12 to 15 million dollars for demolitions and rehabilitation of blighted New Orleans houses and properties. They hope to take out 10,000 blighted properties over the course of three years. Right now their focus is on property that sits near or beside schools and parks. Berni says folks in the area have been requesting the city's assistance regarding those homes for several years. Now, they are coming through.