Affordable housing in Monroe, Louisiana, revitalized by a Los Angeles company

Choose Independence, a California-based company, plans to revitalize two different areas in Monroe with affordable housing and a full rehabilitation of a historic hotel.

The developer said it would create a 28-home, 1,200-square-foot, one-acre development on Plum Street.

Christian Richards, Jr., CEO of Choose Independence, said the company’s goal is to make homeownership affordable for the community.

“Everything has to be affordable,” Richards said. “The manufacturers of the houses guarantee that we can get in at a reasonable price, so we don’t seek or maintain anything over $80 to $100 a square foot.”

Revitalization of the former Monroe Hotel

The company is also planning a $14 million revitalization of the former Monroe Hotel on Grand Street in downtown Monroe. The hotel was originally built in 1912 and served as the focal point of the original downtown community.

“It’s a little more complete,” Richards said. “We want to make sure we retain as much of the building’s history as possible in terms of the interior.”

Richards said an engineer should inspect the building before renovations begin.

Richards said the homes will have two or three bedrooms and the development will include a garden, barbecue area and, space permitting, a swimming pool which all residents will have access to.

“All of our projects, although we know that not everyone will be able to own or in the position to own initially,” Richards. “Even when we have rental situations, the ultimate goal is to move that person from renter to homeowner. In this, we understand and know that for someone to own a home, they must have jobs available. .”

Bringing Jobs to Monroe

Richards said it was mandatory that all of the company’s contractors during the development phase come from Monroe.

“We will not accept any outside offers unless the individual signs a contract with us that 75% of the workers will be from Monroe,” Richards said.

Richards said Coastal Pro Group, a Florida general contractor, has agreed to provide jobs in the area, as well as provide training for people who lack certain skills for the jobs.

“They have an innovative product that makes it much easier for individuals to learn the building route and just be a general helper in putting these units together,” Richards said.

Construction of a 28-home subdivision on Plum Street is scheduled to begin in August.

Richards said the developments in Monroe provide an opportunity for Choose Independence to make a “big splash” in affordable housing.

“Anytime you have the opportunity as a developer to improve and revitalize a community and get the support that we’ve gotten, just some direction on how to navigate the waters, it just makes the more beneficial and attractive project,” says Richards.

Construction of the 28-home subdivision is expected to begin in August. Richards said renovations to the Old Hotel Monroe are expected to begin in 15 months.

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