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.