UptownMessenger.com

Jun 052014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While the Mayor is touting his successes at the Legislature, Landrieu’s only major success is getting a fall ballot initiative to increase property taxes in New Orleans. Unfortunately for Senator Mary Landrieu, it might be on the ballot at the same time as her election and could be troubling if voters strongly oppose the tax.

Just because New Orleans voters turned down the Audubon Institute’s millage doesn’t automatically mean they will oppose Mitch’s property tax increase. Everyone knows the cost of living in New Orleans has increased dramatically since Katrina. We’re just not sure voters are ready to add on another tax which would hurt property owners and renters, whose landlords would undoubtedly increase rents. Continue reading »

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Jun 022014
 
(photo by Owen Courreges)

(photo by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courreges

Every now and again I drive past the intersection of Martin Luther King and Oretha Castle Haley in Central City. There, in the neutral ground, stands a statue that can only be described as a Lovecraftian horror. The ten-foot tall egg-shaped grotesque features several sets of hands with misshapen, distended fingers reaching out in bizarre fashion.

It’s a wonderfully disturbing statue, something straight out of movie “Beetlejuice.” Alas, there is no plaque on the statue, or other indication of what this nightmarish form was intended for. It simply appears to be a bit of random art with no specific purpose. Continue reading »

May 292014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Snuggles is a New Orleans dog, born and bred — a 2-year-old mixed breed with probably more terrier in him than anything else. About a year ago, Snuggles was a lonely street dog, mostly eating out of garbage cans.

One day, a stranger swept him up and brought him to the Louisiana SPCA. After getting some really good food, shots, spayed and regularly bathed, Snuggles was ready to be adopted. Unfortunately, no matter how cute Snuggles was, he always seemed to come in second. Fortunately for Snuggles, fate smiled on him. SPCA Executive Director Ana Zorrila was getting calls from shelters in the Northeast and Midwest looking for puppies to be adopted. Continue reading »

May 222014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Let’s face it, New Orleans was not awarded the Super Bowl because NFL owners valued the financial investment the citizens of Minneapolis had made to build a new stadium. New Orleans has a reliable stadium that has served us very well over the decades, a stadium which in fact transformed New Orleans and helped create Poydras Street as a major business destination. We should all thank Doug Thornton, Ron Forman and Governor Jindal for continuing to keep our stadium up to par, within its physical footprint. The State of Louisiana can’t afford to build a new stadium at this time and we don’t have the corporate base of Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston or Milwaukee to even partially fund such a project. Nevertheless, we will win another Super Bowl bid — maybe not next year — but soon because New Orleans is still the best sports destination in America. Continue reading »

May 192014
 

Owen Courreges

The City of New Orleans has targeted a nefarious, rogue activity that has been transpiring beneath our very noses down in the French Quarter.  These fiends brazenly peddle their poisonous wares out in the open, boldly daring the authorities to stop them.  Their actions infest our streets, fly in the face of common decency, and corrupt our youth.

Drug dealers?  Pimps?

Worse.  I’m talking about T-shirt shops. Continue reading »

May 152014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The Krewe of Banana is returning to the Port of New Orleans and we couldn’t be happier. The Port of New Orleans has undergone a great resurgence in recent years – at least they are one agency that Governor Bobby Jindal cuts less frequently than most others. Continue reading »

May 132014
 
Students present their plans at the Contemporary Arts Center. (photo by jewel bush for UptownMessenger.com)

Students present their plans at the Contemporary Arts Center. (photo by jewel bush for UptownMessenger.com)

jewel bush

With the unleashing of their imaginations and mentorship from the National Organization of Minority Architects, four teams from Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, Sci Academy and Urban League College Track spent the last year analyzing the needs of various neighborhoods around the city and then developing architectural plans designed to meet those needs.

Security, transportation, employment, shelter and food were among areas the youth considered during the urban planning process. They sought to define space and place and answer questions like: Does a church fall under the category of public space, entertainment or education?

And what the budding architects, ranging in ages 11 to 18, envisioned is nothing short of thoughtful, innovative and really, really sweet. Continue reading »

May 122014
 

Owen Courreges

Uptown New Orleans is renowned for its urban green space. Some of it consists of public parks, places, and neutral grounds, but most of it is private – yards and gardens abutting buildings. These spaces aren’t only aesthetically pleasing, but also help manage storm runoff and reduce the need for drainage infrastructure.

However, Uptown also plays host to numerous apartment buildings whose owners want to provide the amenity of off-street parking. Where space is lacking for a proper parking lot, these owners would prefer to just pave over everything.

And sometimes, they do just that. Continue reading »

May 082014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Now that all the glitz and glamour of Monday’s inauguration is over, it’s time to get down to business. First on the list should be how the Mayor and Council are going to come up with all the millions to fund the two consent decrees and the firefighters’ judgment while keeping money flowing to other agencies in need, like the public libraries and the Sewerage and Water Board. Continue reading »

May 062014
 

jewel bush

Today, consider foregoing eating out or that fancy cup of Joe and give to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations across the city participating in the community-wide online giving campaign, GiveNOLA Day.

The minimum gift is $10, less than the cost of an IMAX movie ticket or a happy hour special. Continue reading »

May 052014
 

Owen Courreges

Is Magazine Street poised to be taken over by national chain stores?

It’s certainly a possibility. Rising rents are already forcing some Magazine Street retailers to move or close entirely. Well-heeled national businesses can often afford what mom-and-pop cannot. Continue reading »

Apr 302014
 
A public phone stand lays damaged after an April 10 crash at Magazine and Napoleon. It's still there. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

A public phone stand lays damaged after an April 10 crash at Magazine and Napoleon. It’s still there. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

How are you doing?”

“Good”

“No, Superman does good; you’re doing well”

So goes the old exchange that quickly provides the context of good versus well, and how one should really use them properly.  Among the titles New Orleans carries, The City that Care Forgot remains very real despite the influx of the educated and employed.  And you can see it almost anywhere. Continue reading »

Apr 292014
 

jewel bush

The New Orleans Public Library System is in trouble.

Next year, the city has to find an additional $3 million just to keep the 13 current libraries open. That’s keep-the-lights-on money. Purchasing new books or investing in new library technologies are both out of the question under this scenario. Continue reading »

Apr 282014
 

Owen Courreges

Elk Place has seen better days, and poor transit planning is the most obvious culprit.  Near the intersection with Canal, transit users wait alongside derelict and ill-maintained structures with inadequate shelter and seating.  Drivers buzz by as throngs brave the elements to make their connections.

This is what happens when over 20 transit lines converge at one location, with over 5,000 riders boarding and disembarking streetcars and buses.

It’s a notorious disgrace.  The immediate area has been slow to redevelop.  The sidewalks are difficult to navigate and litter is an ongoing problem.  Not only have transit users suffered – local businesses and property owners are dissatisfied as well. Continue reading »

Apr 232014
 
Before and after photos of 1800 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Before and after photos of 1817-19 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

It’s no secret to those that have dipped their toe in the water of New Orleans real estate recently that the stream of activity resembles more of a rushing rapid with unexpected twists and turns included.  The tone of the market possesses a buzz that surprises even the most seasoned flippers and investors, and it shows more promise than concern.  We all know these things ebb and flow, but it’s the perception of spaces that is changing the fastest, the intangible becoming realized in the tangible.  More specifically, let’s look at a cute double that recently flipped in the heart of Central City, but hold on to your hat.  And, as usual, for clarity/disclosure, I did not participate in any part in any of these sales; effectively, I am only an observer fascinated by the pace at which these changes are taking place. Continue reading »

Apr 212014
 

Owen Courreges

Did you hear the news? Mayor Landrieu is proposing… (drum roll please)… tax increases!

This shocking development stems in large part from the consent decrees with the U.S. Justice Department over the widely-acknowledged and widespread constitutional violations routinely committed by the New Orleans Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office vis-à-vis Orleans Parish Prison.  Those settlements have hefty price tags attached.

Who could have predicted this?  Not to toot my own horn, but I certainly did. Continue reading »

Apr 182014
 

By Elizabeth Elliott, Davida Finger and Melissa Gallo

While the City has many responsible landlords, all too often in our practice at the Loyola Community Justice Clinic, our clients face landlords who refuse to repair substandard housing, wrongfully withhold deposits at the end of leases, try to illegally evict in order to rent to Mardi Gras tourists and other offenses that take advantage of the landlord-friendly laws. Louisiana has lagged far behind other states in protecting renters, and Senate Bill 298 is an attempt to find the correct balance between landlord and tenant rights and interests. Continue reading »

Apr 172014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The conventional wisdom is that former Governor Edwin W. Edwards can’t be serious about running for the open seat in the Sixth Congressional District or, if he is serious, has no chance to win.

The 86-year-old Silver Fox, still looking good and as engaging as ever, made it as clear as he could at a recent reception that drew hundreds of his Metro New Orleans friends that he is running, expects to run first in the Nov. 4 primary and believes he’ll have a chance in the Dec. 6 runoff against whichever Republican comes out of a crowd of candidates to take him on in the general election. Continue reading »

Apr 142014
 

Owen Courreges

An interesting column appeared last month in the Winston-Salem Journal  entitled “About that Desire for Streetcars.”  Winston-Salem (famous for being the headquarters of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco) is moving forward with a contentious $179 million boondoggle to build a streetcar line through downtown.  And apparently New Orleans’ streetcar system is being cited as an exemplar.

The column, which was written by the aptly-named John Railey, takes the form of a parody of the Tennessee Williams masterpiece “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“What we really need is a real streetcar line, like the one we had in New Orleans,” says the thickly satirized protagonist. “Such a streetcar line would be worth any cost. It’s just silly that some critics say we should first spruce up and expand the city bus lines. Silly taxpayers, being so pettily pessimistic about the streetcar line prospect.” Continue reading »