Some will meander just so over St Claude, but not past Claiborne for the blight might be too great (only maybe just for now). And some will add a bridge to their commute a la Holy Cross. But know your history and remember: these areas all took water, and just may again some day, plus there’s still no real-deal grocery on the radar. So you either renew your membership to the food desert or you mosey on. But to where? The blue collar set still make a blue collar wage. Two logical choices float to the top: 7th Ward / Treme and – – – wait for it – – – Central City.
Okay, lumping both sides of Esplanade together isn’t completely fair, however it isn’t completely inaccurate either. That new bike lane along the ridge will be a magnet for the car-less and careless alike, but mostly it’ll be a beacon to old school, Old World progress that draws the active out and layers a level of density to a neighborhood little else can compare to. In a word: impact. A very positive impact, despite the car-loving naysayers, and yes, my friends, the vocal dectractor set are out there. Boo on bikes, they say. More road for me. And so on. But it’s decided, and the orange cones strewn from NOMA to the FQ sound this change with resounding, reflective clarity. To be fair, the hipsters didn’t do this, but to be sure, their tall bikes will surely trek the shady oaks where Degas once stood. Ultimately the proximity to Bywater from here also happens to be completely manageable. So be it closeness of jobs, friends, and whatever the Esplanade Ridge makes geographic sense. Plus that new Whole Foods on Broad on the horizon? Fuhgeddaboutit.
Let’s also remember our local grocers in Canseco’s and Terranova’s, keeping Esplanade fed for the longest. How often do you think Whole Foods collectively kick themselves for leaving MidCity when they did? But I digress.
Back it up to Central City and quizzically wonder on that for a moment. Really? Central City?! A-yep. It’s mostly dry, it’s just across the interstate from the Warehouse District on the one side, and it snuggles up to the Garden Districts and Uptown on the others. Plus these areas benefit from new grocery sites in The Fresh Market at St. Charles and Louisiana and the newest Rouses on Baronne. There aren’t bike lanes aplenty in these parts, but there also happen to be wider one-way streets so navigating two wheels ain’t so bad. Translation: any possible commute for the displaced Bywater-ite = very doable.
And maybe none of this will come to pass. Maybe Bywater will retain and grow in its present populace. My Magic 8 Ball says otherwise. It also foretells of the day in the not too distant future when we will all begin to utter new and reclassified geographic boundaries like “Upper Central City” and the “Cemetery District,” AKA Lafayette Cemetery No. 2. Shrug it off for now, but let’s talk in 18-24 months, shall we?
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.