Since the late 1990's, the Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard Merchants & Business Association (OCHBMBA) has been the lead organization engaged in a strategic plan to revitalize the Boulevard. OCHBMBA has facilitated significant investment for the corridor over the years, especially in the post-Katrina environment, and the Boulevard is making a spectacular come-back.
In 2006, OCHBMBA successfully applied to become a Louisiana Main Street Community, and the area became a Louisiana Cultural Products District in 2009. Both initiatives are managed by OCHBMBA, which is a 501 c3 non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Louisiana.
Since hiring its first executive director in 2006, OCHBMBA has strengthened existing businesses and organizations; developed financial and other resources; procured technical assistance and university partners to assist property owners with redevelopment; and recruited new businesses identified as desirable by the community’s residents.
Once a thriving mecca for New Orleans’ Jewish and African-American communities, Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, formerly known as Dryades Street, is on its way to once again becoming a beacon for culture, history, commerce, and so much more.
The Boulevard is home to long-time cultural and non-profit anchors such as Ashé Cultural Arts Center, Café Reconcile, Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, Good Work Network, the New Orleans Mission and the Youth Empowerment Project. Other socially conscious organizations have made the Oretha Castle Haley Main Street commercial district home, like HOPE Community Credit Union, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, Stay Local and Bike Easy.
Restaurants and other culturally-oriented businesses have opened, including Casa Borrega, Purloo, Primitivo and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
Streetscape enhancements will be underway in 2016, including markers of historic and culturally significant landmarks to complement the existing community art murals and restored buildings.
The corridor was renamed in the late 1980's for Mrs. Oretha Castle Haley, a civil rights pioneer in New Orleans beginning when she was a young college student. Mrs. Haley was the president of the New Orleans chapter of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and dedicated her life to social justice issues including education and healthcare.