PLAN 75: Article
Planning Students Help Win $15K Seed Grant

Development Strategy Would Increase Access to Healthy Food

A team including two students from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning placed second in the 2009 Chase Community Development Competition, partnering with a New Orleans non-profit to develop a real estate project to strengthen the local community. The nonprofit, Broad Community Connections was awarded a $15K seed grant for the proposal's second-place finish.

MCP candidates students Jacquelyn Dadakis and Aditi Mehta teamed with Brendan Wittstruck and Philip Burkhardt from Washington University in St. Louis to create a comprehensive plan for the revitalization of New Orleans’ Broad Street corridor. They were guided by faculty advisors Karl Seidman, senior lecturer at MIT, and Derek Hoeferlin, senior lecturer at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. The executive director of their nonprofit partner is SA+P alum Jeffrey Schwartz (MCP’08).

Their proposal was based on the notion that access to fresh, healthy food is a critical consideration for low-income neighborhoods that are often afflicted with high levels of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and other health concerns. And according to their proposal, there is only one grocery store for every 18,000 residents in New Orleans while the national average is one store for every 8000 residents.

The team’s proposal centered on an existing grocery store on historic Broad Street that has been closed since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005; by transforming the local landmark into a retail anchor in this important corridor, the team aimed to provide a model for further economic development in the area.

The second place win marked the second time MIT has collaborated with the Sam Fox School in the competition. In 2008, a collaborative team took first place for a project with non-profit partner Good Work Network; that proposal developed a strategy to restore an historic building to provide support services for 500 local businesses each year, as well as to provide storefront space for local entrepreneurs.

Sponsored by Chase and Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., this year’s competition drew students from twelve universities across the nation. The $25K first place prize was awarded to a joint submittal by the University of New Orleans, DePaul University and Louisiana State University; the third place prize of $10K was awarded to the Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association (NENA) for its resource center design project with the New School (New York). Other competing schools were Tulane University, UC Davis and the University of Oregon.