July 29, 2020 — Mayor LaToya Cantrell today joined other elected officials and community partners to celebrate the beginning of work on a $32 million redevelopment of Lake Forest Manor to bring it back to its original use, as a 200-unit senior living facility in New Orleans East.

The City provided a $1.5 million community development block grant to the developer TKTMJ, Inc., in collaboration with the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

The project is in keeping with several efforts by Mayor Cantrell to fight for affordable housing for the City’s residents, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, the City Council approved Mayor Cantrell’s request for $35 million to be added to the 2020 budget for COVID-19 response and affordable housing in New Orleans. The ordinances appropriate funding from the State and Federal government to the Office of Community Development. They will allow the City to quickly respond to the compounded housing and economic issues related to COVID-19. This will help the City deploy funding for eviction and rental assistance, housing for homeless residents, and support small businesses.

Also, effective July 27, the Office of Community Development began taking applications for tenants residing in Orleans Parish in imminent danger of being evicted.

Mayor Cantrell also thanked a hotel in New Orleans East for stepping up to help house homeless residents downtown who had been compromised by the rodent vector that was identified in the early days of the pandemic as restaurants shuttered. Several of those residents, Mayor Cantrell added, have found permanent housing.

Mayor Cantrell also reaffirmed her commitment to improving District E, including New Orleans East. This includes housing, economic opportunity and infrastructure. Including projects currently under construction, the Department of Public Works has 40 projects valued at $211 million planned for District E. Twelve projects valued at $80 million are currently under construction, while there are 11 completed projects valued at $36 million — since May of 2018. 

Mayor Cantrell was joined by State Rep. Jason Hughes, District 100; Marjorianna Willman, Director, Office of Housing Policy and Community Development, who facilitated the CDBG with HANO; and Michael Tubre and Thomas Tubre Jr., of TKTMJ, Inc.

Lakischia Smith: How Free Haircuts to HealthCare Heroes Began

Lakischia Smith
Lakischia Smith, RN and Owner of WHO DAT BarberShop

I am a Registered Nurse and the Owner of WHO DAT BarberShop, Inc. It has always been a goal of mine to intermingle the two different areas of my life and the Pandemic gave me the perfect situation. 


After working with COVID-19 patients on my job, I knew all too well the health risking conditions that healthcare workers were enduring to continue to provide for their families. I also saw healthcare workers going weeks and months without getting a haircut or proper grooming. We all had the same desire to look and feel good again amid the quarantine. 


So I stepped up to the Local Heroes Challenge by partnering with Personal Touch Mobile Detailing to feed more than 140 frontline workers. We gave meals to Acadian Ambulance and Ochsner Extended Care Hospital. The event was a success, but I still felt like I wanted to do more. By this time, my business had reopened after being closed for exactly two months with no income. WHO DAT BarberShop quickly reopened but I noticed business was slower due to all the continued restrictions secondary to the social distancing regulations. 


I decided to give Free Haircuts to HealthCare Heroes because that is what I love to do — help others. I knew Our HealthCare Heroes deserved it and I wanted to help them to look and feel good again during these crazy times. But I felt bad about asking my Barbers, Ro, Devin and Kim, to cut hair for free, knowing they had lost all income for two months and were recovering financially themselves. So I added the Fundraiser to help me pay for the Haircut Services, matching it dollar for dollar. 


Lakischia is the mother of four sons whom she encourages and teaches Entrepreneurship. In addition to having a career and being an entrepreneur, she enjoys  reading and mentoring others. 

Free Haircuts Flyer | Gambit: NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East is ‘America’s rocket factory.’ 

July 13, 2020

New Orleans East has been important to America’s journey to space, from the Saturn V rockets and the Moon landing to the recent NASA and SpaceX launch in May and the coming mission to Mars. Sitting right there on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway is the Michoud Assembly Facility, where NASA and its partner Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are building the rockets that propel our exploration of space. Read more.

City Council Addresses Blight with Passage of Redevelopment Plan for Holiday Inn on Chef Menteur Highway

Holiday Inn on Chef Menteur Highway
Exterior photo of the blighted property along Chef Menteur Highway

New Orleans City Council. The New Orleans City Council passed Zoning Docket 51/20, approving a conditional use to permit the redevelopment of the “Caveman” Hotel located at 6324-6400 Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans East. This zoning change will facilitate the transformation of the former Holiday Inn, bringing the blighted property back into commerce after fifteen years of vacancy. 


The structure, which was built in the 1960s and opened as a Holiday Inn in 1969, is one of the first buildings seen from the Interstate when crossing the Industrial Canal into New Orleans East. Situated in plain view of the Interstate, it has become a canvas for large-scale graffiti that now characterizes the derelict hotel more commonly known as the “Caveman” in reference to the large sprawling graffiti letters covering the entire facade.


The building will be renovated using Historic Tax Credits with commercial space on the first floor and 144 one-bedroom apartments on the remaining eight floors. The applicant will remodel the entire structure while maintaining the original “Holiday Inn” style and facade and plans to install new green and open space and modify the parking area to incorporate stormwater management and landscape features. 


The approval of this zoning docket represents a huge win for New Orleans East and specifically, Chef Menteur Highway, which is in great need of additional commercial and residential uses throughout the area.