A Solution For Affordable Housing in Downtown New Orleans?

by • November 18, 2015 • Central Business District, Multi FamilyComments (10)16260

Rendering via Southmarketdistrict.com

Rendering via Southmarketdistrict.com

This is a guest post from Ray McNeal, a real estate, urban development, and environmental journalist.

The lack of suitable, affordable housing is a crisis currently being experienced by several major U.S. cities, including New Orleans. As NOLA.com points out, occupancy rates for downtown New Orleans are in the 90th percentile, and an increase in market rate rents is also expected. In order to prevent a mass migration from the city, New Orleans officials must plan to provide suitable housing at affordable rates, as well as attractive amenities, in order to promote city growth in population and economy.

Developers like The Domain Companies are supporting this mission by providing housing while simultaneously enhancing the communities in which they’re building. Their property, The Paramount, was the first building constructed as part of the city’s South Market District that combines high-end living spaces with retail and restaurant space. The site connects the Central Business, Warehouse and Arts and Sports Entertainment Districts, and maximizes access to public transit, lessening carbon emissions. This recent project serves as a smart, sustainable example of making the most of key areas to stimulate growth and development. It provides trendy new housing options that encourage movement into the city, and new retail and restaurant spaces benefit the city’s economy and overall growth.

New Orleans developments like the Lafitte Greenway and nearby properties use or plan to use mixed developments to combine athletic facilities, banquet halls, housing and office space. Of the property, developer Ramsey Green said: “We’ve looked at this building for a while, and we think it would really add value to the neighborhood and provide a really high-demand resource for the area.”

This type of development has worked well in other U.S. cities as well. New York City, for example, is also experiencing its own housing crisis wherein the availability of affordable housing for the middle class is lacking compared to that of luxury apartment availability. Examples of smart real estate development similar to that of the South Market District in NYC can be found in structures like Rockefeller Center, which combine office space, restaurants and shopping in a transportation-friendly building. It is for these reasons that Tishman Speyer CEO and Rockefeller Center owner, Rob Speyer, has referred to the building as “happy.” The Center, like The Paramount, has amenities that are attractive to young professionals, enticing them to remain downtown residents as opposed moving to the suburbs.

An attraction to city life has always been the element of convenience. If development and real estate companies continue to maximize mixed-use properties in these downtown areas, it will keep young professionals in the city limits while also expanding the economic opportunity for residents and local businesses.


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10 Responses to A Solution For Affordable Housing in Downtown New Orleans?

  1. sooperpaz says:

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but are you saying that SMD is a good example of affordable housing? And Rockefeller Center is a good model for affordable housing? Shouldn’t affordable housing be…what’s the word….affordable???

  2. Phillip says:

    Yeah…I’m not really sure what the point of this article is. Obviously these new buildings in the CBD would not be possible without a pretty high rent, which is why they didn’t happen until the post-K increase in insurance and housing prices. In fact amenities such as the greenway, tend to make neighborhoods less affordable due to their increased desirability and the difficulty developers have in getting larger projects approved.

  3. Philip Chin says:

    Ok, let’s clear this up as I am tired of hearing the need for “affordable” housing.
    65% of the properties in Orleans Parish pay ZERO property taxes. The housing projects in Orleans Parish have been around since like the early 1940’s with the Wagner Act. So, Orleans Parish has had LOTS and LOTS of affordable housing since the 1940’s and even today 65% of the properties pay zero property taxes.

    Next, how many things are affordable if you don’t have a job? And how many things are affordable when you have a really low paying job? And how many things are affordable if you are not responsible enough for a decent job?

    Lastly, how many companies have located in New Orleans throughout it’s entire 300 year history? And why haven’t companies relocated to New Orleans without a massive tax credit as isn’t the FQ and Bourbon St such great places with millions of visitors per year? (But apparently the FQ and Bourbon St is not good enough for companies except those who want to get drunk or do drugs.)

    • Phillip says:

      I get your point, but rents in most places around the city are much higher than in comparable cities. That and it’s hard to find a place on short notice – most buildings are full with waiting lists. So even if we get new offices moving in, those people moving from out of town need places to live.

      • Philip Chin says:

        I see your point. Yet, what I forgot to mention is that the 65% of the properties that pay zero property taxes comes from the Louisiana Homestead Exemption and non-profits.

        Louisiana has had the Homestead Exemption from like the 1920’s and obviously it has nothing to show for itself except what you see today in the blight and crack houses all around the city of New Orleans. Second, if you got rid the Homestead Exemption the landlords would be then be paying taxes for teachers, streets, lights, police, fire, etc. This would then force the landlords to do something more useful than what they are now as crack houses, illegal Section 8, welfare moms and the facilitators of the cycle of poverty and crime that are funded by social carrots (non-profits).

        And If the Homestead Exemption was abolished, there would be far far less need for non-profits in the first place and lastly businesses would come and provide jobs.

        Right now, as in many other Democratically controlled cities e.g Detroit, Baltimore, etc, there is a “race to the bottom” in regards to Affordability, which only in turn produces low paying jobs like you see in New Orleans like service and tourism jobs.

        The Homestead Exemption basically promotes blight and poverty just like public housing did in the name of “affordability”. Basically politicians are promoting “something for nothing” but all NOLA and America got was nothing but problems from public housing and the Homestead Exemption.

        • Brian Cook says:

          If you’re a “landlord” in the traditional sense you are NOT eligible for the Homestead Exemption. You can only receive it on one property and you must own AND occupy the property. It’s meant to encourage home ownership not professional landlords.

          I have no idea how you made the connection between Section 8, crack houses, and the Homestead Exemption. Would you like to elaborate with links/evidence to backup these claims?

          • Brian Cook says:

            Never mind I realize now you’re responding to yourself without changing your username which is hilarious. You must be an expert troll.

          • Philip Chin says:

            If you ask the good renters who actually work AND live in places like Broadmoor or New Orleans East, they will tell you about all sort of stories of thugs coming and going in their neighborhood. This is very possible as now there is this thing called STR, which means SHORT TERM RENTALS. There are like 2000 listings in the New Orleans area on websites like AirBnB. If STR’s are all over the place, which is illegal, why can’t there be lots of lots of property owners claiming a homestead exemption????

          • Philip Chin says:

            Two thousand AirBnB listing means perhaps 2000 property owners clearly breaking zoning laws as there are plenty of properties not listed AirBnB but still rented out as short term rentals. Don’t be surprised many are claimed as homestead exemption as these same property owners are violating the zoning code anyway, so what do they care? It’s New Orleans, correct? I guess New Orleans gets what it deserves and let them learn the hard way.

  4. Tom T says:

    Not sure the author of this article has any idea whats going on. Be clear, I think Domain is doing a great job turning parking lots into a vibrant mixed use part of town. This is great for New Orleans. However, South Market is all market rent apartments. There are NO AFFORDABLE housing components part of the South Market development. Why would you reference a non-affordable development as supporting the affordable mission in New Orleans. Author is clueless.

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