NEW ORLEANS — City officials and artists who call New Orleans home announced Tuesday that they would team with Habitat for Humanity to build a village for musicians chased from their homes by Hurricane Katrina.
The alliance, which includes the Marsalis family and Harry Connick Jr., will use $1 million in seed money generated by two recent concerts in New York to launch the development. Plans call for as many as 200 homes surrounding a cultural center named for Ellis Marsalis -- a patriarch of New Orleans jazz and the father of three accomplished musicians: saxophonist Branford, trumpeter Wynton and trombonist Delfeayo.
There will be single-family dwellings for younger musicians with families, and easy-to-care-for condominiums for elderly musicians -- many of whom had lived in poor sections of town before the storm hit. The cultural center would include a performance hall, rehearsal space and rooms where the musicians could give lessons to children.
The development is expected to cost about $18 million, said Jim Pate, executive director of the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. Additional money would be raised through efforts such as the sale of DVDs and CDs -- including an upcoming compilation called "Our New Orleans: A Benefit Album for the Gulf Coast."
Organizers expect to pick a site for the village in the coming weeks.
Habitat for Humanity homes typically are not given away, and will not be in this case, Pate said. However, he said, some provisions will be made.
Poor and elderly musicians will be able to buy the homes at cost, and single-family homes will be financed with no interest. And, Pate said, musicians would be able to satisfy the organization's "sweat equity" component of Habitat for Humanity developments by performing for volunteers.
Mayor C. Ray Nagin said creativity was "the essence of New Orleans," adding that the development represented the kind of "out-of-the-box thinking" that would be essential during the rebuilding process.
Branford Marsalis said he hoped that a wide spectrum of musicians would want to live in the village, not only jazz musicians but blues and zydeco performers and members of the Louisiana Philharmonic.
"New Orleans is rich in culture and rich in diversity of all kinds," he said. "Our music is very near and dear to us."