Eleven years after Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans real estate market has become what Rick Haase, president of Latter & Blum, calls “a tale of two cities.”
Haase, who presides over a vast and fast-growing real estate empire in South Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, said there are parts of the city that are booming and other areas that are still struggling to regain their footing.
‘A Tale of Two Cities’
“The market in New Orleans is a tale of two cities,” said Haase, using a metaphor from the title of a classic Charles Dickens novel by the same name.
“In the greater New Orleans area — in neighborhoods like the Garden District, Uptown and the Warehouse District — prices are going through the roof, driving up median and average prices in those areas.
“In other neighborhoods, we are seeing the opposite: no appreciation or price declines. In areas like Chalmette, East New Orleans and the River Parishes, we are seeing flat to slight price appreciation.”
Haase said demand for housing in the most sought-after New Orleans neighborhoods is so fierce that inventory is nearly depleted. Conversely, he noted, some areas severely affected by Hurricane Katrina are seeing fewer sales.
“Inventory is so scarce — under 500 listings in Uptown — that buyers are bouncing to other neighborhoods like the Faubourg Marigny, Bywater and Mid City to find homes they can’t afford in the most desirable areas of the city,” said Haase, who overseas the largest real estate brokerage firm in the Gulf South.
“Those neighborhoods are less established and are going through a renaissance. There are also rebound markets, like the Lakefront, that attracts young millennial families.”
Bywater & Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods
Up-and-coming neighborhoods like the dense and increasingly trendy Bywater and the Faubourg Marigny, adjacent to the French Quarter, are attracting young, college-educated, transplanted millennials who started moving to the Crescent City in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina to help rebuild the city.
Once a blue-collar community, Bywater is increasingly becoming a bohemian swath of the city that hugs the Mississippi and is slowly being gentrified by artists, musicians and young idealists who saw the rebuilding of News Orleans as a cause célèbre for rebuilding the Big Easy.
In Bywater, 19th-century shotguns — homes known for the fact that a shotgun blast at the front door could travel unimpeded through the home’s narrow hallway to the rear — are being remodeled and converted into rentals and single family homes. And abandoned warehouses, like the red-bricked Rice Mill Lofts, a five-story structure that was once home to the nation’s largest rice processor, are being converted into apartments.
Haase said a tremendous influx of out-of-town young entrepreneurial millennials — seeking amenity-rich housing — are driving up demand in these newly gentrified areas and revitalizing other areas of the city.
An expanding economy, driven by a growing tourism sector, oil and gas development, and the growing medical industry, has helped to transform formerly neglected corners of the city into trendier neighborhoods.
Besides the gentrification of hipster neighborhoods like the Faubourg Marigny, Bywater and Mid City, another trend Haase pointed out is the wave of hotel and condo projects in the central business district (CBD), the Warehouse district and other parts of the city.
Today, thousands are flocking to a renewed New Orleans. The city is rebuilding its public transit system, adding a fourth new street car line along North Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue, running 1.6 miles from Canal Street to Elysian Fields Avenue, traversing neighborhoods like Treme, Marigny and Bywater.
In the last several years, New Orleans has also transformed its public education system, with 93 percent of New Orleans public school students attending charter schools, replacing failing public schools with high-achieving charter schools, according to the Cowen Institute at Tulane University.
“We are experiencing a historical shift right now where young buyers want amenity-rich buildings and amenity-rich neighborhoods near the urban core,” said Haase, referring to the growing crop of urban-centric high-rise condo towers being planned or under construction in the Warehouse District near the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center along the Mississippi River.
“We are just entering the world of condo living. Interest in vertical communities is unprecedented.”
Octavio Nuiry is the managing editor at Attom Data Solutions.