Christopher J. Tyson,
President and CEO,
EBR Redevelopment authority :
Christopher J. Tyson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority where he leads Baton Rouge’s land development and blight elimination efforts. He is currently on leave from his position as the Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Professor of Law at the LSU Law Center. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Howard University, his Master of Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, and his Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. In 2015 Chris was the Louisiana State Democratic Party nominee for Louisiana Secretary of State. While unsuccessful, he earned the largest number of votes of any black candidate at that point in Louisiana’s history. In 2017 LSU honored him with the Brij Mohan Distinguished Professor Award, a distinction bestowed upon a faculty member who exhibits a commitment to peace and social justice. In 2018 he was inducted into University Laboratory School’s Alumni Hall of Distinction.
The Plank Road Project: Addressing Racial and Spatial Stratification in Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge's urban inequality problem is best illustrated in the racial and spatial stratification existing between North Baton Rouge and the rest of the city. According to a study by 24/7 Wall Street, Baton Rouge is the 13th most racially segregated metropolitan area in the nation. Racial segregation is the mother of sprawl, and accordingly Smart Growth America rated Baton Rouge the most sprawled out metropolitan area under one million in population and the 6th most sprawled out metropolitan area of any size. Running through the heart of North Baton Rouge and, in particular, the 70805 zip code, is Plank Road. Plank Road is one of Baton Rouge's oldest commercial corridors. Numerous statistics underscore the urgency and opportunity of Plank Road. 70805 is 95% black with over a third of residents living below the official poverty line. The median household income is roughly $26,000, little more than half of the state’s relatively low $45,146 median income. The median house/condo value in the zip code is $86,240, well below the state average of $158,000. 55% of the residents in 70805 rent their homes, compared to the state average of 36%. In 2014 a British Broadcasting Company (BBC) documentary profiled 70805 as one of the deadliest zip codes in America. The area also has the city's highest concentration of zero-car households and one of the highest pedestrian and vehicular fatality rates in Louisiana. But Plank Road also has many assets. Plank Road is still a viable commercial corridor with the second highest transit usage in the City. It anchors neighborhoods that hold precious historic and cultural value for the entire Baton Rouge region. The corridor therefore offers the City a rare opportunity to model an innovative approach to addressing racial and spatial equity that not only improves the quality of life for those who live, work and play on Plank Road, but ensures a more equitable, vibrant and humane future for the Baton Rouge region.