Rebirth: Faubourg Lafitte is Colorful Addition to New Orleans Housing

What Hurricane Katrina took away, contractors are busy giving back to their Gulf Coast communities.

Ten years after the devastation caused by one of the costliest and deadliest storms in the nation’s history, the rebuilding work still continues across the Gulf Coast of the southern United States. One of the success stories is the new Faubourg Lafitte multi-family community in New Orleans.

Revitalizing the neighborhood

Located on 27 acres in the 6th Ward of the Tremé neighborhood, the original Lafitte Projects were one of the city’s oldest housing projects. Buildings were severely damaged by the floodwaters that inundated New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Left mostly vacant after the disaster, the demolition of the housing project was ordered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Now, in its place, is Faubourg Lafitte, a mixed-use development of 812 new homes and apartments that city leaders say is one of the keys to the revival of the neighborhood. The new development also restores the historical street grid that was erased when the original housing development was built.

“This project includes the replacement of subsidized housing from the old Lafitte housing project after HUD mandated its demolition in the wake of disaster,” says Louise Jenkins, co-owner of SWJ Constructors, LLC, which was awarded the paint contract on the project. For her and husband and business partner Sam Jenkins, the project has been rewarding on many levels.

“It is a joy to see how the local community worked with the developers to retain the cultural character of the community in their design and rebuild these homes to Enterprise Green Communities standards,” she says. “SWJ has been involved since the inception of the project and we have completed over 350 units consisting of single-family homes, duplexes and six unit buildings. Since beginning in 2010, we have worked on 179 buildings and are now finishing up the third phase this year.”

Long life, low maintenance

SWJ worked closely with Sherwin-Williams to recommend the right products for the job. They primed with PrepRite® ProBlock® Primer/Sealer to ensure uniform appear-ance and adhesion of the topcoat. Sherwin-Williams 950A Siliconized Acrylic Latex Caulk was used throughout the project for tight seals.

For the topcoat, the choice was Duration® Exterior Acrylic Latex. All interior walls were coated with Duration Home® Interior Acrylic Latex.

“The decision to use Duration was a matter of quality and cost,” Jenkins says. “Being a multi-family housing project, maintenance was a key issue and the quality of the Duration product made perfect sense. The first phase still looks as new as the current phase.”

And for the property owners, she says, using Duration was the perfect solution to provide low maintenance over the long term.

“Duration is a fantastic product,” Jenkins adds. “It has superior coverage and lays down drywall joints to give a uniform finish. It blends shadowing in uneven walls in wood framed construction to create a smooth and straight look. There has been no fading or chalking.”

The value of ‘a true working partner’

SWJ Constructors owners Sam and Louise Jenkins know what they need from a coatings supplier.

Sam has been a contractor for 24 years working mainly in Tennessee developing residential housing, commercial multi-family housing, governmental facilities and hospitals. Louise Jenkins had been an owner’s representative and construction administrator for a real estate development group for 10 years. During that time she had worked on projects like the Majestic Sun and the Magnolia Plantation in Florida, and the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans. Together they formed SWJ in New Orleans in 2008.

“Sherwin-Williams has been a true working partner with SWJ on this project,” Jenkins says. “Our representative, Darrin Comberrel, and all of the store employees have been responsive to our needs. Darrin has established a relationship with SWJ and we appreciate his professionalism and responsiveness.”

This article was originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of PPC magazine. Story and photography by Mike Starling, PPC Editor. Read about other successful painting projects in the PPC digital archive.