Cheers and jeers erupted in city council chambers Thursday afternoon as the council voted “yes” to allowing a hotly contested zoning change that will clear the way for a developer, Perez APC, to build a five-story mixed-use residential property on the former site of the Holy Cross School in the Lower 9th Ward.
Neighborhood residents who fought to force the developer to build within current zoning laws left the meeting disappointed and angry. But supporters of the development, like Eric O’Neal Sr., said they were elated that the project would finally be allowed to move forward.
"This is not a lose-lose situation or a win-win situation," O'Neal said. "I think that you have to give sometimes in order to get development and growth. So this has been a really great day! I feel really good about what happened, and I think as people begin to assess it, like the council has done, they will begin to see that this is a really great day in our city."
O'Neal runs the Blue Lion Karate Academy, which will have a recreation space in the new Perez development.
Many people who spoke in favor of the zoning change said that they hoped the new apartment buildings and businesses would bring new residents to the Lower 9th Ward, along with economic investment, new and better infrastructure, and basic amenities like a supermarket.
The development was approved on a 5-1 vote. Councilman Jason Williams was the lone dissenter.
To read more about today's vote and the Holy Cross project, visit The Lens.