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New Orleans: new visions

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Scores of planners around the nation are tendering ideas for the city's renewal. Here, four experts - all with New Orleans connections - offer their views on how to move forward.

Both global and local

Pres Kabacoff, CEO of HRI Properties, a New Orleans development firm

What will be different?

One of the realities is we're going to have a smaller geographical city. You're not going to be able to build on all of the ground, and we're going to lose population. We'll have to provide housing for 100,000 to 150,000, and we might lose 100,000 or more.... The goal should be to provide permanent housing in a more dense fashion on high ground, which would mean mixed-income housing.

What's the potential for innovation?

You should reorganize the public school system, taking advantage of models of success that have been developed around the country. As you look at the grid system, putting in high-speed broadband could give us a real advantage as a city. And you should take a look at light rail, both inner-city (the streetcar systems) and out to the airport, which is a project that could help people move out of the city in case of another catastrophe.

How can design enhance culture?

We need to build on our cultural assets. One project I had worked on was to develop 4,000 acres [in a way that would] make the city more like a Paris - an Afro-Caribbean Paris. One in which you expanded development into poor neighborhoods, to increase the amount of terrain that locals and visitors could safely navigate.... In Paris, you can walk 15 or 20 blocks and have an interesting experience the whole way. We need to develop microprojects to revitalize the poorer neighborhoods as well as the monumental projects that we do all the time.

Who should be involved?

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