L9 Visioning Coalition

Small Center worked closely with Lower Ninth Ward residents to devise a community-driven plan for the former Holy Cross School Campus, the largest undeveloped parcel of high ground in New Orleans.

Project Dates

September 2013–May 2014


In 2013, local developers sought approval for redevelopment plans of the former Holy Cross school site. Because the plans were created without input from neighborhood residents, the New Orleans City Council delayed an approval vote and required an engagement process. The neighborhood association asked Small Center for assistance in crafting a proposal to inform the coming development.

Small Center Engagement

The Holy Cross Neighborhood Association approached Small Center to bring together various community groups in the formation of the L9 Vision Coalition (L9VC). More than 250 people attended five public meetings over two months. Across these meetings, Small Center worked with L9VC to create three planning schemes representing the wishes of the whole neighborhood. By providing urban design, preservation, development financing, and landscape design expertise, Small Center ensured that the L9VC’s plans were realistic and financially feasible.

Partner Organization

L9VC brought together a broad coalition of individuals and neighborhood organizations including A Community Voice, Art House on the Levee, Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, L9 Center for the Arts, L9 Homeowners Association, Lower 9th Ward Village, and Tekrema Center for Art & Culture.


The public planning process and educational workshops gave the community a voice and informed their position with realistic budgeting, compelling the developer to make a number of changes, including a reduction from 13-story towers to 5-story buildings better suited to the relatively low-density neighborhood, and assured community access to existing green spaces.

By facilitating public meetings and creating a broad-based coalition, Small Center enabled neighborhood leaders to promote their community vision for the site and worked with the developer to ensure that community needs were considered. The planning process and capacity building led by Small Center will allow the community to confront development challenges as the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood continues to recover and grow.

To view or download the final visioning booklet, please click here.


A Community Voice

  • Vanessa Guerringer

Art House on the Levee

Holy Cross Neighborhood Association

  • Sarah DeBacher
  • Kim Ford

Junebug Productions

  • Stephanie McKee

L9 Center for the Arts

  • Chandra McCormick

L9 Homeowners Association

  •  Linda Jackson

Lower 9th Ward Village

  • Ward “Mack” McClendon

Spackman Mossop and Michaels

  • Elizabeth Mossop

Tekrema Center for Art & Culture

  • Greer Mendy

Team Members

Project Leads

  • Maurice Cox (Design Lead)
  • Nick Jenisch (Project Manager)
  • Jenga Mwendo (Engagement Advisor)
  • John Stubbs (Preservation Advisor)
  • Chris Calott (Real Estate Development Advisor)


  • Jose Cotto
  • Shuang Ding
  • Vincent Baudoin


  • Dan Etheridge
  • Dozenia Marshall
  • Emilie Taylor Welty


  • Johnson Controls, Inc.

Press and Awards

Ripping the fabric of a neighborhood — and, with it, the spirit of democracy

The Lens NOLA