Living Cities plan is bold, in need of private investment

Here is the prepared text of Mayor A.J. Holloway’s remarks to the luncheon gathering organized by Living Cities, at the Biloxi Community Center on March 14, 2007.

Good morning. Thank all of you for being here, and thank you for your role in helping Living Cities create a plan in conjunction with the Reviving the Renaissance initiative.

I also want to publicly acknowledge Ricky Mathews and the Knight Foundation for originally inviting Living Cities to Biloxi.

Ricky first approached me several months after the storm about the idea of having Living Cities undertake this work.

I also want to thank Reese, Gordon, Goody Clancy and the entire Living Cities team.

Many of you in this room and others unable to be here helped provide funding for Living Cities to undertake this project.

There are some bold and ambitious initiatives in the plan. I appreciate the fact that Living Cities recognized the cultural and economic importance of east Biloxi.

Living Cities also recognized the fact that an expanded workforce is vital to success in east Biloxi, and that affordable housing is vital to house the workers.

At the same time, the ideas advanced in the Living Cities report would require a huge amount of private investment.

As I said in my State of the City address back in February, we need to face the fact that Point Cadet will never look the way it did before.

The fact is, based on their preliminary reports, FEMA is going to declare the majority of Point Cadet to be in a flood zone.

I realize the importance of Point Cadet, but I also realize that it will never be the same as it was before.

So, where do we go from here?

Clark Griffith is going to brief you on progress with the RTR report, and Bobby Hensley of the Biloxi Housing Authority is going to update you on the progress that’s being made in the area of affordable housing.

As we continue working on the day-to-day facets of our long-term recovery – rebuilding our infrastructure and public facilities, as recommended in the RTR initiative – we are also looking long term.

The city is embarking on an update of its comprehensive plan, which will be the official roadmap of where we go from here.

It is my hope and my goal to see many facets of the Reviving the Renaissance and Living Cities work folded into that comprehensive plan.

We CAN have economic vitality. We CAN have cultural preservation, and, yes, we CAN have affordable housing. And we can do it all in a RESPONSIBLE manner.

That’s what I’d like to see.

More online

—To read an online version of the Reviving the Renaissance report as well as the Living Cities section on east Biloxi, click here.

—To read BHA’s presentation, which was made during a special meeting of the City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007, click here.

—To appreciate just how far the housing authority has progressed in its storm recovery, read the authority’s initial damage assessment by
clicking here.