Living in New Orleans is like taking part in a living tapestry, rich in color and textures, and steeped in tradition. Founded in 1718, and named after Philippe d’Orléans, Duke of Orléans, Regent of France, the City succeeds in merging both the old and the new without sacrificing the appeal of either.
New Orleans is home to the Saints and delicious cajun cuisine. Who hasn’t enjoyed a taste of gumbo, or jambalaya? This scrumptious style of cooking is defined by the use of ingredients available locally which are prepared simply, yet deliciously. Cajun cooking has been made famous across the globe by chefs like Justin Wilson, who was a popular cook and humorist.
The year 1980 was a bad year for the Saints. They went 1-15. In their grief they put bags over their heads to hide their shame, hence the tradition known as “bag heads” – a tradition that fans of losing teams have adopted to this day.
New Orleans felt much of the impact of the storm that rocked the South. Hurricane Katrina left massive devastation in her wake that is still being felt in many parts of Louisiana, but on a brighter note, the experience that many had in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana has led to many improvements in the way that cities and states prepare for disasters.
Real estate in New Orleans, as in many other states across the U.S., has been impacted by the economy, however many real estate professionals in the area see promising signs for New Orleans.
The demand for commercial space, which is a strong indicator of economic recovery, is strong according to Lewis Stirling, executive vice president of Stirling Properties. He said that “demand for office space in Western St. Tammany Parish is strong.” Stirling also noted that the new campus that Chevron built after Katrina is already filled to capacity and that St. Tammany based small business are steadily driving up the demand for commercial real estate.
The luxury market is doing well according to Brooke Arthurs, a realtor with Latter & Blum. She said that “the luxury home market in New Orleans, particularly Uptown, is booming.” Brooke believes that investors need to take a look at homes between Carrollton Avenue and the Jefferson Parish line which hold great potential for renovation and either resale or retention, as the supply of homes for redevelopment in the Uptown area is limited.
The demand for apartments on the Northshore is strong according to Paul Dastugue, president of Property One Inc., however he believes that the Hammon area of Tangipahoa Parish will be developed more so than St. Tammany Parish. Anticipating the need for housing with the opening of the Nucor steel mill, Dastugue’s company prefers to develop apartments in the River parishes.
According to Bonnie Buras, a realtor with Coldwell Banker TEC on the West Bank, “there is a tremendous need for apartments or homes for rent in Belle Chasse, because most military people want to rent rather than buy when they come to the area. The community has historically been resistant to apartments.”
Loyola University’s College of Business, a top rated school, was an active contributor last year to the economic recovery of New Orleans, infusing nearly $164 million into the community for job stimulation and capital projects.
College president Kevin Wm. WIldes, S.J., Ph.D, said, “The city of New Orleans is experiencing one of the greatest urban revivals of our lifetime, one in which Loyola University New Orleans plays an important role. Loyola has remained firmly engaged with New Orleans throughout the university’s 100-year history and is in a position of strength as we approach our centennial. We are making improvements to our physical campus and academic programs and we are working to generate an unprecedented level of support from the Loyola community.”
Job growth in the area is good, with the addition of 10,500 jobs in the area since August of last year, and predictions are that it will continue to increase. The New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors met to assess the economic situation in New Orleans. Although they don’t agree on all of the details, they do maintain that New Orleans will benefit from investments in infrastructure development for quite some time.
Jed Smith, managing director of quantitative research at the National Association of Realtors, stated that “nationally, the real estate market appears to have bottomed out, but without meaningful job improvement, the real estate market and the national economy will probably scrape along the bottom for 12 to 18 months.”
On the bright side, however, Smith said “he doesn’t see a double dip recession, barring major unforseen risks.”
As a testimony to the fighting spirit of New Orleans and her residents, Smith said, “I see a slow recovery. I see an awful lot of black swans out there, any one of which could derail us, but they haven’t done it yet.”