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 »

Mar 172014
 
Plans for a new Regions Bank to replace the Roly Poly and an adjacent house on Tchoupitoulas by architect Richard Whitston of Kentucky. (via New Orleans City Council)

Plans for a new Regions Bank to replace the Roly Poly and an adjacent house on Tchoupitoulas by architect Richard Whitston of Kentucky. (via New Orleans City Council)

The Roly Poly location on Tchoupitoulas. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Roly Poly location on Tchoupitoulas. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Roly Poly restaurant on Tchoupitoulas Street is slated be torn down and replaced with a new Regions Bank at the corner of Jefferson Avenue, according to a demolition request pending before the city. Continue reading »

Mar 062014
 

Blight on Simon Bolivar (Uptown Messenger stock photo).

A new “lot maintenance program” passed by New Orleans City Council will allow the city to cut grass on blighted private property, recording the cost on that property owner’s tax bill.

The program, created as part of an amendment to an existing ordinance, allows the city to cut overgrowth, remove debris and perform routine maintenance on a private lot if the grass or growth is over 18 inches, there is trash or debris and/or if there is “noxious” growth, such as poison ivy, according to a presentation given by city administration in a Housing and Human Needs committee last month. Continue reading »

Feb 182014
 
Members of the Coliseum Square Association meet Monday night in the Felicity Church, which is under renovation by a private owner. The association has been advocating for a similar future for the nearby Spanish-American Church building on Sophie Wright Place. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Members of the Coliseum Square Association meet Monday night in the Felicity Church, which is under renovation by a private owner. The association has been advocating for a similar future for the nearby Spanish-American Church building on Sophie Wright Place. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

As the Spanish-American Church heads back to the New Orleans City Council this week for another request to tear down their decaying building on Sophie Wright Place, neighbors and members of the Coliseum Square Association hope the stalemate over the building will lead to stronger enforcement of blight laws against neglectful nonprofits. Continue reading »

Jan 162014
 

A new petition protesting a plan to reroute freight trains through Hollygrove has gained 1,000 signatures, according to a report in Mid-City Messenger. “We Won’t Be Railroaded,” the coalition of Hollygrove and Mid-City residents behind the petition, hopes to have 10,000 signatures by mid-Spring, according to the story. Continue reading »

Dec 162013
 

Owen Courreges

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again.” 

That’s apparently the motto of the First Spanish American Baptist Church (FSABC), which owns the dilapidated wood-frame building located at 1824 Sophie Wright Place in the Lower Garden District.  Their latest application to demolish the structure was rejected this past Thursday by the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC). Continue reading »

Dec 132013
 

UPDATE: Saturday’s event has been canceled and rescheduled for Jan. 11.

At a "Fight the Blight" event in March 2011, Mayor Mitch Landrieu paints a gate around the pool at Taylor Park in Hoffman Triangle with Laquinn Huey, who was 8 at the time. NOLA For Life Day, a continuation of those efforts, will be held Saturday at A.L. Davis Park in Central City. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

At a “Fight the Blight” event in March 2011, Mayor Mitch Landrieu paints a gate around the pool at Taylor Park in Hoffman Triangle with Laquinn Huey, who was 8 at the time. NOLA For Life Day, a continuation of those efforts, will be held Saturday at A.L. Davis Park in Central City. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

The city of New Orleans will bring a host of governmental agencies and nonprofits to A.L. Davis Playground in Central City on Saturday for the sixth “NOLA For Life” Day in an effort to reduce crime in the city through improving quality of life. Continue reading »

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Dec 122013
 
The First Spanish-American Baptist Church building at 1824 Sophie Wright Place. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The First Spanish-American Baptist Church building at 1824 Sophie Wright Place. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The latest request to demolish the First Spanish-American Baptist Church building in the Lower Garden District — listed in 2011 as one of the most endangered historic structures in New Orleans — was denied with more stern words from city officials Thursday, but the fate of the structure remains uncertain as it continues to decay. Continue reading »

Oct 282013
 

Owen Courreges

Loyola University has staked out a clear position on its St. Charles properties: “We are not tearing down any mansions.”

However, many local residents are less than sanguine regarding Loyola’s intentions.  Loyola presently owns the Fabacher Mansion in the 7300 block of St. Charles Avenue.  The proposed comprehensive zoning ordinance will change the zoning on this iconic property from RM-4 (moderate residential density) to EC (Educational Campus). Continue reading »

Oct 162013
 
The former Dreamboat. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

The former Dreamboat. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

On a sleepy stretch at Loyola and Third in the heart of Central City amid a myriad of churches (some with an active congregation, some not so much), there sits a veritable historic housing preservationist’s dream, a 19th Century relic in what would otherwise appear to might have been a corner grocery or barroom.  But not so fast, judges of book by covers!  Look closer at the empirical data and ask some of the older area locals, and this hiding-in-plain-sight wood frame structure was by all accounts (or those willing to provide accounts) once upon a time a place unequivocally identified as the neighborhood brothel, dba The Dream Boat Inn. Continue reading »

Sep 192013
 

 Irish Channel resident Mark Redding appeared before city council Wednesday with a map of all the blighted properties in his neighborhood. (Photo by Della Hasselle for MidCityMessenger.com)

Irish Channel resident Mark Redding appeared before city council Wednesday with a map of all the blighted properties in his neighborhood. (Photo by Della Hasselle for MidCityMessenger.com)

The city claims to have reduced blight by 8,500 properties since 2010, but 37,000 remain, officials said during a committee meeting Wednesday, according to a report by Della Hasselle for MidCityMessenger.com.

During the meeting, Irish Channel resident Mark Redding appeared with a map blighted properties in his neighborhood, including the former Sara Mayo Hospital on Jackson Avenue, and beseeched the city to do better, according to Mid-City Messenger‘s report: “We want to continue to invest in the area and we think it’s moving in a good direction, but we need the city to step up and do your job. Quite frankly, we’re tired of hearing the same things,” Redding said.

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Sep 132013
 
The former Frank's Steakhouse site on Freret Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Frank’s Steakhouse site on Freret Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The possibility that an upscale student-housing development may be planned for the large block of Freret Street where the former Frank’s Steakhouse still remains a shuttered landmark is being met with concern and questions by people in the neighborhood. Continue reading »

Sep 032013
 

The vacant fire station at 4877 Laurel Street. (photo via the Preservation Resource Center, prcno.org)

The vacant fire station at 4877 Laurel Street. (photo via the Preservation Resource Center, prcno.org)

After John and Sylvi Beaumont, the new owners of the fire station on Laurel Street, presented a plan last week for a coffeeshop there with two apartments upstairs and a third in the old backyard stable, neighbors around Wisner Park were split between concerns from some about trash and parking versus enthusiasm by others over the old building’s new life, reports Stephanie Bruno for The Advocate.

Aug 262013
 

Owen Courreges

The official motto of the Landrieu Administration’s blight eradication efforts should probably be:  “We can’t do much, but we’ll do more of it!”

Case in point: A week ago, I read an Action Report from Bill Capo at WWL about a house in Central City that is nearly collapsing onto another.  An entire wall has become detached.  A couple of two-by-fours mounted between the homes is all that is preventing it from completely falling over. Continue reading »

Aug 232013
 
D'Artanian Stovall's house on Upperline Street, where he is stripping and repainting one section at a time to avoid the ire of city inspectors. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

D’Artanian Stovall’s house on Upperline Street, where he is stripping and repainting one section at a time to avoid the ire of city inspectors. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Residents of the Freret neighborhood are banding together to help out two longtime homeowners, supporting one man in the struggle to keep the city from selling his home at sheriff’s auction and raising money with a fundraiser tonight to help repair another woman’s damaged roof. Continue reading »

Aug 212013
 
A surveyor outside the Barreca building on Freret Street. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

A surveyor outside the Barreca building on Freret Street. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

PROLOGUE: In 2009 on Freret St at an open house I held, a septuagenarian realtor I can only imagine being more local than local sneered in my general direction as she exited, “Freret’s never coming back.”  Then being a believer myself, I felt at once insulted and repulsed, as if she’d purposely urinated on the floor and thought nothing of it.  After all, in many ways I came to feel it was her generation that had largely abandoned the city proper, swapping distinctive neighborhoods for blanched strip malls and multi-laned thoroughfares, leaving behind a devil-may-care swath of once vibrant stretches, the very core that the surrounding region’s commerce and population sprang from.  Now, in 2013, Freret crowns front pages, but without question there’s still much to be done. Continue reading »

Aug 202013
 
(photo by jewel bush for UptownMessenger.com)

(photo by jewel bush for UptownMessenger.com)

jewel bush

The Florida housing development has undergone a metamorphosis at the hands of Brandan “BMike” Odums, a 27-year-old art educator and literacy advocate.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, 127 shiny new apartments had recently been built in the Florida housing development, an 18.5-acre tract of land in the Upper Ninth Ward. The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) had plans to build more. That didn’t happen, though. The units were damaged so badly during and after the storm that HANO closed down the Florida. The property has sat abandoned and rotting for eight years, yet another Katrina eyesore in the city.

Odums has taken the 17 or so crumbling townhouses that remain and turned them into mini art galleries called #ProjectBe — artistic alchemy, if you will, his way of transforming the ugliness of blight into an electrifying participatory art project. Continue reading »

Aug 122013
 

Crowds gather in front of The Company Burger on Freret St. as owner Adam Biderman hands out hamburgers for free Thursday, Sept. 3, 2012, while most of Uptown waits for power to come back. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Freret Neighbors United president Andrew Amacker talks with residents during a crowded neighborhood meeting about a security-district proposal at Samuel J. Green Charter School. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

When more than 100 Freret residents gathered in the Samuel J. Green Charter School cafeteria in March to discuss a proposal to use a property-tax fee to hire private security guards for the neighborhood, the meeting had every appearance of a textbook example of gentrification and its painful fallout. Two white people sat at a table marked “FOR,” two African-Americans sat at a table marked “AGAINST,” and a room full of other black residents argued bitterly against what they saw as the secrecy of the proposal, about their sense of disenfranchisement amid an influx of “new residents,” and about the rising costs of merely remaining in their homes.

Given the explosion of commercial growth on Freret Street — from only a single restaurant four years ago to 14 blocks of highly-lauded cuisine, new entertainment venues and businesses ranging from a dog-groomer to a craft-cocktail lounge — concerns about gentrification should be expected. But after that heated meeting in March, the proponents and opponents literally walked away from the school building together down the sidewalk, relying on relationships and respect forged over decades to find a middle ground — suggesting that, perhaps, something is different about what’s happening on Freret. Continue reading »