Baton Rouge awarded $30M HUD neighborhood grant to revitalize community

The neighborhood initiative is about 1.6 square miles of three  neighborhoods: Melrose East;...
The neighborhood initiative is about 1.6 square miles of three neighborhoods: Melrose East; Smiley Heights; and East Fairfields, known as the Ardenwood area.(Source: Partners Southeast)
Updated: Oct. 24, 2019 at 7:20 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge has been announced as one of four cities in the country to receive a grant to help revitalize distressed neighborhoods and bolster economic development in the community.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods implementation grant for revitalization projects in Ardenwood Village.

“This grant will fund a neighborhood revitalization project, which will help improve the quality of life for hundreds of Louisiana families. Neighborhoods should provide families with community and give kids a safe place to ride their bikes and play with their friends. The Choice Neighborhoods grant is a significant investment into the Baton Rouge economy, and it will help make the Ardenwood Village a more welcoming place for families to call home,” said Senator John Kennedy.

Other developments include a YWCA, a new housing community, educational programs, neighborhood beautification, and several other projects to engage the families who live in the area.

“This is very good for East Baton Rouge Parish. This grant brings critical housing, health, and education resources to those in need of help,” said Senator Bill Cassidy.

East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome says the grant will also go towards improvements in the Smiley Heights and Melrose East neighborhoods within Ardenwood Village.

“Our team of stakeholders on this grant opportunity focused on developing a comprehensive plan as part of our application. The plan highlighted resilience, placemaking, and innovation, and I’m confident this is why the HUD chose Baton Rouge for this incredible award,” she said.

Residents in the area are also excited to see the upcoming changes.

“It’s enjoyment, it’s excitement, bringing a new building into the community, hopefully new personality, meet new people. It means a lot because it’s been a long time since,” said Steven Kinchen.

“It will draw more people to the community because some people are scared of the area in a sense. They see the area being built up, so they’ll flock more to the area,” said Melvin Jones.

HUD received 32 grant applications and selected four applicants as finalists.

Baton Rouge was selected out of 32 candidates. Other finalists included Omaha, Nebraska, Newport News, Virginia, and Norfolk, Virginia.

HUD Assistant Secretary Robert Kurtz traveled from Washington, D.C. to deliver the check.

“It provides a real sort of shot in the arm to the neighborhood. I'm excited to come back in the coming years and seeing the developments and the difference that this is going to have for everyone around here,” said Kurtz.

Jay Daniels, director of the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority, accepted the check. He says the department is excited to be one step closer to revitalizing the area.

“What we are doing is generational change, generational change, changing the trajectory of the individuals that we serve on a daily basis,” said Daniels.

The first phase of housing is expected to start in July of 2020.

To learn more, visit the BR Choice website.

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