SMHA’s West End Redevelopment Initiative was launched in the Fall of 2008 in partnership with the City of New Iberia and a private donor who was born and raised in the district. The “West End” of New Iberia, is a historically African-American area of the city that has great importance in New Iberia’s history. Included in the area are a music hall that once attracted artists including Ike and Tina Turner; Mrs. Bobb’s boarding house, which was the only place that African-American travelers to New Iberia could find overnight accommodations; the birthplace and childhood homes of many of the most prominent Iberia Parish families of many different races and ethnicities – African-American, Cajun, Creole and Lebanese immigrants.
In September 2008, SMHA contracted with Steve Oubre of Architects Southwest, a respected smart growth advocate and land planner responsible for some of the most beautiful and successful developments in the South. Architects Southwest has created the Master
Plan and written the architectural codes that will define how the streets and buildings in the District will look to promote aesthetics, walkability, and a sense of neighborhood safety and security. The over 100 hours in community charrettes through which area residents and other stakeholders — government representatives, law enforcement, health care providers, the school district, etc. — informed and shaped the Master Plan were held in October 2008.
The Master Plan designated the 600-acre area encompassing four distinct neighborhoods for the initiative, with the center of the Redevelopment District located at the intersection of S. Hopkins Street and W. Dale. The Master Plan also includes a magnet school, a health clinic, community gardens, a Farmers Market and a cultural arts center.
Click here to view photos in our gallery of the West End Redevelopment Initiative in progress!
SMHA’s work improving the physical environment (improving the curb appeal of homes and businesses, rehabilitating nearly 30 owner-occupied homes and constructing five brand new homes – the first homes developed for homeownership in the West End in several decades) and building community leadership and capacity to “make change” has resulted in numerous community-led improvement efforts.
The Neighborhood Associations established as a result of the charrettes in 2008 are now operating independently from SMHA and recently joined together to create the West End Council of Neighborhood Associations. New not-for-profit organizations are hard at work to improve their West End community: advancing the arts and African-American history, improving resident health, running a hydroponic community garden cooperative, facilitating education improvements and establishing after-school programs.