Renewal

One can go out an read all the numbers and statistics they want about vacancy and abandoned buildings in New Orleans they want, and I’m pretty certain it is probably the truth, but I can say that New Orleans is rebuilding. Every day I see old homes being renovated and new ones being built.

Now, I don’t know if this is some sort of real estate investment scheme, but it certainly doesn’t appear to be so from my point of view. In fact, quite the opposite. All these renovations and new buildings are being filled as they are put on the market, at least in the Irish Channel (the neighborhood riverside of the historic Garden District, for those unfamiliar). I know many who would love to see more viable housing in the city.

When we moved into our home 3 years ago, half of the block was empty. In fact, our home had been empty since 2001 or thereabouts. I won’t say we got a steal, but we were fortunate. Now, there is only one empty building on the block, which has been previously condemned by the city, though it is still standing, and I have no idea why (I guess budgetary issues?). It has been a struggle to renovate an over 100-year-old building that hasn’t been updated since the 1950’s with little contract help (just a new breaker box to replace the 60-year-old one, installation of an on-demand water heater, and some gutter work), but we’re progressing.

The point I’m getting at is that *we* are doing this, with our own money and skills. All this policy talk of “#/% of vacant buildings” is often tied to governmental action, when, in fact, it should be, can, and has often been folks with a dream of home ownership and the umbrage to take on the task. “Progress” may appear slow, from the outside, but that’s fine by me. A city should grow organically, based upon where people want to live, which is usually areas that have the best services and atmosphere available to them, not some jury-rigged central plan. As more residential buildings come online (to borrow some IT-speak), supply will better meet demand, and has, with a stabilization of prices.

Now, if we can only convince the city to start fixing roads and sewer lines we pay for in taxes where people actually live, instead of repaving the CBD or French Quarter yearly, that would be great. Seriously, it’s ridiculous (I’m only slightly exaggerating).

-Doc

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