What: Do Protect Tremé
Film By: Cindy Do
Editors Note: ViaNolaVie partners with students of UNO professor László Zsolt Fülöp, pairing them with artists, non-profits, environmental groups, and cultural entities to facilitate a live curriculum that results in a short documentary. Cindy Do, a film student at University of New Orleans, provides us with a documentary about Treme and its history we want to protect.
Armstrong Park was built in the 1960s as an urban renewal project. The construction of the park led to the bulldozing of residential areas spanning 10 blocks in the Tremé neighborhood. The park came with a fence that separated the area from the rest of the neighborhood, creating a rift between the community and what was supposed to be a cultural development.
This is not the only encounter of destructive development plans the Tremé neighborhood has faced. In 1968, the state of Louisiana acquired 155 properties and cleared out hundreds of oak trees to build the I-10 bridge that sits over Tremé and the Seventh Ward. The area was once a large skirt of oak trees and a neutral ground that hosted many community gatherings, a significant area for the black community. Despite the protest against the construction of the bridge, what once was a safe haven is now paved.
Some people refer to it as “the monster.” What residents didn’t know was there was another monster coming to Tremé.
According to the 2018 report by the Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative, when New Orleans legalized short-term rentals, listings in the Treme area went up 84 percent. And 82 percent of Airbnb listings were for whole-home rentals.
Only 18 percent of the operators were local. The top 10 listers had 568 rentals combined. With Saunder, a San Francisco-based rental company coming in as number one. Short-term rentals are also more prominent in lower-income and residential neighborhoods. In 2018, councilwoman Christine Palmer proposed stricter regulations for short-term rentals. The proposal bans whole-home short-term rentals without a homestead
Unfortunately, not all proposals are in favor of Tremé. In 2021, mayor LaToya Cantrell proposed for City Hall to be moved into Armstrong Park. The Proposal was met with heavy criticism. Hundreds of New Orleans residents have protested against the proposal.
The erection of a government building in Armstrong Park would further destroy the cultural significance of the neighborhood. On December 2nd, 2021, the city council of New Orleans voted against the mayor’s proposal. A win for the cultural preservation of Tremé.