Disaster Recovery Expertise Aids in the Rebuilding of the City of West, TX

In April 2012, the City of West, Texas experienced a tragic fertilizer plant explosion that leveled the plant and several surrounding neighborhoods. Soon after the incident, Mayor Tommy Muska, along with city officials, began seeking opportunities to improve the town by spurring economic growth and supporting new residential areas. They hired KAI Design & Build to work with sister company KAI Texas to develop a master plan for the damaged areas, shepherd the town's redevelopment and augment its economic expansion.

Minority-owned KAI's efforts are being led by Herman Howard, Director of Planning and Urban Design, in concert with KAI Texas and partners Greenrock Partnership of Chamblee, GA and UrbanIS (USA). Herman's team understands that a successful urban plan factors in not only a community's heritage, but also the pride and strength of its residents.

"What really struck me was walking around and seeing the pride in the community; the resilience of the people and the fact that this is home to them and they want to stay here," said Howard.

KAI Design & Build has participated in several redevelopment efforts in other communities scarred by large-scale destruction. After Hurricane Ike struck Galveston, TX on September 13, 2008, the residents began the task of rebuilding their island, turning the disaster into an opportunity to foster a more vibrant community. The city developed a Long Term Recovery Plan and engaged KAI as the architect and engineer for the replacement of public housing units damaged beyond repair by the hurricane. This unique opportunity allowed KAI to help rebuild a city’s public housing system and provide a service-rich environment within which residents of all ages could thrive.

In 2004 in Beaumont, TX, the Housing Authority of the City of Beaumont (HACB) began work to redevelop the Magnolia Gardens public housing site. On Sept. 24, 2005, Hurricane Rita struck and devastated the community. HACB developed a strategic response to the housing and services needs in the city, and KAI provided architectural and engineering services for the $30 million Magnolia Gardens project, which included 391 apartment units.

In New Orleans, KAI was part of the team advising and providing technical assistance for the Housing Authority of New Orleans' (HANO) Development and Capital Planning functions for four large mixed-income housing sites devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The team implemented a 90-day assessment of HANO's development functions which included reviewing all available development funds, assisting with planning for future capital investments for both rehab and new construction projects; providing guidance on staffing and organizational issues; addressing HUD program and technical requirements to expedite the review/approval processes; and assisting with closing existing development phases at the Big Four mixed-income sites. KAI is helping to implement the plan by serving as the architect and engineer for two of the Big Four housing sites, C.J. Peete (now called Harmony Oaks; $160 million/500 units) and B.W. Cooper ($86 million/250 units).