GNOF Releases “Stormwater Opportunities: Spirit of Charity, Lafitte Greenway, and Armstrong Park” Study

October 21, 2020

Greater New Orleans Foundation Releases "Stormwater Opportunities: Spirit of Charity, Lafitte Greenway, and Armstrong Park" Study Prepared by Waggonner & Ball

New Orleans — Today, the Greater New Orleans Foundation (GNOF) released a groundbreaking new study commissioned from Waggonner & Ball Architecture/Environment. “Stormwater Opportunities: Spirit of Charity, Lafitte Greenway, and Armstrong Park” that provides recommendations that, if implemented, could lead to a 39% flood volume reduction during a 10-Year Storm in the New Orleans Central Business District, Treme, Tulane-Gravier, and Mid-City neighborhoods.

“This report advances the work of two of our civic leadership projects — our campaign to build the movement to live better with water and our initiative to build a dynamic, job-creating, and equitable Spirit of Charity Innovation District in the neighborhood surrounding the old Charity Hospital,” said Andy Kopplin, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation. “These recommendations are actionable and can provide game-changing benefits in terms of flood reduction while demonstrating the power of green infrastructure to make the Greater New Orleans region safer and more resilient.”

“Flooding is an essential concern of downtown businesses and residents. It’s encouraging that actions are being taken,” said David Waggonner, principal at Waggonner & Ball Architecture/Environment who with his colleague Ramiro Diaz, was lead author of the study. “The projects outlined in this plan are heroic and will lead to flood mitigation.”

The study could not have been completed without the partnership of Mayor LaToya Cantrell and her administration, particularly Deputy CAO Ramsey Green and DPW Director Keith Lagrange, who allowed the Waggonner & Ball team access to the city’s stormwater management model for analysis. More importantly, they believe in green infrastructure and have over $260M in green infrastructure projects underway in the City of New Orleans.

“With New Orleans having the third highest precipitation rates in the country, holding and storing stormwater is one of our top priorities,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “Since my days leading the Broadmoor Improvement Association and serving as the Councilmember for District B, the Greater New Orleans Foundation has been a consistent partner in stormwater management initiatives. Since taking office as Mayor, my administration has been turning words into action and putting green infrastructure projects on the ground, and this report from GNOF gives us a great roadmap to continue these necessary projects to keep our city safe and sustainable.”

During the past decade, GNOF has invested $3.2 million to support nonprofit and community-based organizations working to advance our region’s efforts to live better with water. In 2016, GNOF made its first grant to support the Greater Treme Consortium (GTC). This community-based organization has engaged more than 200 residents who have designed and implemented their own green infrastructure projects, including constructing, in partnership with the City of New Orleans, the biggest planter box in the city at the Treme Center, which can capture 9,000 gallons of stormwater from the center’s roof.

“To solve our city’s flooding problems, each of us needs to do our part,” said Cheryl Austin, Executive Director of the Greater Treme Consortium. “The residents of Treme are doing what we can on our own properties and around our community to reduce our flood risk by building planter boxes and planting rain gardens and trees. The City’s implementation of this plan—if done in partnership with neighborhoods like ours—will bolster our residential and neighborhood-level efforts and help us stay safe.”

This study was only possible with generous financial support from the Berger Companies, Tommy Coleman, Flower Holdings, Gallo Mechanical, Valentino Hospitality, HRI Lodging, J Hospitality and Development, Laitram, the Roosevelt Hotel, and Tulane University.

“This plan lays out where we need to go and how we can get there if we are serious about flood mitigation,” said David Gallo, CEO of Gallo Mechanical. “But we can’t go halfway. We only get to heroic flood reductions if all of the recommendations are implemented, and I know the business community stands ready to support the City in getting these projects done.”

“The Downtown Development District (DDD) has laid out redevelopment plans for both Duncan Plaza and the old Veterans Hospital which have always included green infrastructure concepts,” said Kurt Weigle, President & CEO of the DDD. “The Waggonner & Ball study shows the dramatic reduction in stormwater flooding that these projects can make happen, including the benefits of the 45 blocks of permeable parking lanes the DDD has dedicated $5 million to building. On behalf of the residents and businesses Downtown, the DDD looks forward to working with GNOF and others to better manage stormwater and improve parks and open spaces Downtown.”

“Tulane University has been providing leading research on the benefits of green infrastructure in urban areas through our Bywater Institute and our School of Architecture,” said President Michael Fitts. “As a key player in the Spirit of Charity Innovation District through our partnerships on the redevelopment of Charity Hospital and the Warwick Hotel among our other downtown campus assets, we are fully committed to the use of smart stormwater management practices to keep our city safe while creating beautiful public spaces for our city as this plan calls for.”

“LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans has lower elevations than the surrounding neighborhoods and floods easily,” said Larry Hollier, MD, Chancellor of LSU Health Science Center. “By storing more water on higher ground, the projects outlined in GNOF’s plan will provide tremendous flood reduction for us and our neighbors in the Tulane-Gravier neighborhood.”

“The Greenway is an important part of New Orleans’ sustainable stormwater management system, and through this study, we see that there are major opportunities to expand this role,” said Sophie Harris Vorhoff, Executive Director of Friends of the Lafitte Greenway. “We thank the Greater New Orleans Foundation and Waggonner & Ball Architects for their visionary work, and are excited about exploring these ideas, with City and community leaders, to reduce flooding and provide additional amenities for the public to enjoy.”