Investors Pumped $7-8 Billion Into Downtown NOLA Over Last 9 Years

by • February 3, 2014 • Central Business District, Investment, NewsComments (0)2121

Kurt WiegleDowntown’s post-Katrina redevelopment progress has been impressive.  From the South Market District to the Riverwalk redevelopment, to new multifamily developments, New Orleans’ downtown is on the rebound.

According to New Orleans Downtown Development District (DDD) CEO Kurt Weigle, the amount invested in New Orleans downtown since Katrina is close to $7-8 billion.  Downtown construction permits in 2013 were up 63% over 2012 to more than $186,000,000.

In an email newsletter to stakeholders Friday, January 31, 2014, Weigle outlined the investment and progress to revitalize downtown into a vibrant, urban core for the city.

You can read the full letter below:

A Message From DDD President & CEO

As the Downtown Development District begins 2014, I want to thank the DDD’s dedicated Board of Commissioners, led by our Chairman, Mr. Troy C. Carter, and outstanding staff for their invaluable role in making 2013 such a productive and inspiring year for Downtown New Orleans.  The difference between just showing up to work and loving this unique & wonderful place that we serve is evident in all that this team does.

With equal fervor, I thank the Downtown stakeholders that we serve. It is only through daily partnership with Downtown property owners, residents, businesses, workers, and of course the development community, that the DDD is able to accomplish anything at all – better put, that the Downtown accomplishes all that it does, together.

Finally, thank you to our partners at the City of New Orleans, the New Orleans Business Alliance, New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the State of Louisiana, the Regional Transit Authority, and other public & non-profit entities with whom we have the privilege to work.

As we work together, and as we accomplish great things, one development, one initiative, and one building at a time, Downtown New Orleans is in better position than ever to become one of the best places to live or work — anywhere in the world.  This is a goal worth seeking, and it’s within our grasp.
We are all fond of pointing out how unique and how special New Orleans and Downtown are.  We know we have customs, building styles, ways of thinking, foods — and on down the list – that are unique in the world.  We know that these unique characteristics have made New Orleanians love our town more than the native sons & daughters of any other place in America. And we know that the best & brightest from around America have discovered how New Orleans can inspire them to do their best work.  Rarely do we see ourselves as a world city, though, taking on the best the globe has to offer and winning.  Let’s change that.

Downtown’s redevelopment progress is impressive.  In the last nine years, Downtown has experienced nearly $5 billion worth of construction, as measured by building permits.  Looking at total real estate investment, the number would be closer to $7-8 billion.  Downtown construction permits in 2013 were up 63% over 2012 to more than $186,000,000 .  Major multi-block projects are remaking entire sections of Downtown, including the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk and the Paramount apartments, part of the South Market project.  The attraction of Neiman Marcus to Riverwalk capped more than three years of courting by the DDD and developer Howard Hughes, and the South Market project is the result of a complex public-private partnership involving the Domain Companies, City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana – with special thanks to our New Orleans legislative delegation, the Industrial Development Board, the DDD and others.  The gains are not easily had, but the partnerships are paying off.

2014 promises to be no less impressive. The Gravier-Common corridor between Baronne and Loyola is the latest to take off.  Residential and mixed-use projects in this newly forming neighborhood include almost 1000 new apartments and hundreds of hotel rooms, plus office and ground floor retail in six buildings: 210 Baronne, 225 Baronne, 144 Elks Place, 234 Loyola, 1100 Tulane, and 1111 Tulane are in the works, with the majority already under construction.

In 2014, the DDD will redouble its efforts to make the public realm – our sidewalks, streets, parks and other open space – as impressive as the private construction driving our boom.  We are working with the City and the local chapters of the Urban Land Institute, American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association, and American Society of Landscape Architects, and private developers to find creative ways to create more parks & green space Downtown, and to make the ones we have meet our needs better.  World leading cities have world leading parks and open space.

World leading cities also offer a variety of transportation options, more and more lead by non-motorized forms.  Downtown New Orleans is blessed, thanks to its scale, good planning, and good stewardship over the years, to be one of America’s most walkable cities. To take on the world, we need world leading pedestrian amenities: “greener” sidewalks (the Mayor recently asked us how we might implement hanging flower baskets), including better approaches to storm water retention that reduce street flooding from rain and create an attractive amenity while doing so; interesting places to sit, rest and enjoy life – places of respite and delight; and self-cleaning public restrooms for visitors and locals alike.

Consistent with these objectives, the City recently began construction on the Museum District Streetscape Project around Lee Circle, a DDD-led project funded by the State, Regional Planning Commission, and the DDD. The City will install count-down pedestrian signals on Canal Street and Poydras in 2014.  These are exciting first steps, but they are just the beginning of the transformation of Downtown sidewalks & streets if we will lead the world.

Bicycles are another important element of a diverse transportation system, and the DDD has helped lead efforts to bring a bike share system to New Orleans, starting with the demonstration project hosted during Super Bowl XLVII.  The City is in the midst of an analysis of how best to bring bike share to New Orleans, and the DDD wants to do its part to make this happen.

We also will work with the Administration on analyzing & planning Downtown’s transportation & circulation patterns overall, to assure that every mode is moving as efficiently as possible.

These are exciting plans, improvements that will change the quality of life for all of us.  The DDD board and staff look forward to working with you to bring them to fruition, and to planning the next round of improvements that will take us one step closer to making Downtown New Orleans one of the world’s best places to live and work.

 

Thank you.

Kurt M. Weigle
President & CEO
Downtown Development District of New Orleans

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