Friday, March 03, 2006

It's A Treat To Beat Your Feet On The Mississippi Mud

According to this article in, developers are looking to high-rise condos and mixed -income housing developments along the Mississippi River. Just this week I noticed a banner advertising a new high-rise condo near the intersection of Tchopotoulis St. and Caliope St. in the Wharehouse District.

Urban planners have been saying for some time that New Orleans footprint should be reduced with higher density housing along the river. The density of the city is increasing along the river does appear to be increasing but because of market pressure and not government. The dearth of housing units in the city has attracted developers but they are not willing to invest in areas highly susceptable to heavy flooding.


Developers, however, are clearly hoping hurricane-wary residents will take a look at neighborhoods nearer the city’s original roots—along the waterfront, where there was no flooding.
This is a logical reaction to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. What is ommited in the article are the ramifications of those homeowners wishing to rebuild or invest in flooded neighborhoods. Face it, not everyone want's to live five floors above street level and have your neighbor on the other side of a wall. People want choices and will find a way to get them, despite what others say.
"New Orleans has many historical neighborhoods with fantastic houses on high ground. We could make it richer architecturally on less land without displacing anybody involuntarily," says Kroloff. Downside? "People in New Orleans may have to trade their ranchburger lifestyle for an urban lifestyle," he says.
Well, Reed, what if some people don't want an urban lifestyle?

On a similar vein, the White House is putting strings on the CDBG for recovery efforts in New Orleans that properties bought-out by the federal government be done under the Stafford Act which says that property under this statue will forever in perpetuety not be allowed for development. As usual, the government is ignoring unintended consequences. If large portions of New Orleans is not allowed to be developed and significant economic growth occurs several things could happen.
  1. Areas of New Orleans not prohibited for development would see an increase in density resulting in less green space. Lack of green space is one cause of subsidence thereby lowering the elevations of the property relative to BFE (Base Flood Elevation).
  2. Moving development to the outlying parishes turning over existing wetlands to potential development which are even more in danger of storm surge.
  3. Large land areas owned by the federal government will have to be maintained and secured by the federal government. If no maintainence occurs, that is the removal all existing structures, utilities, streets, etc, these areas will become large wastelands. If no security is provided, pressure for low-income housing can result in these areas becoming havens for squatters and the resulting shanty-towns.
None of these results will be healthy for the city or it's inhabitants. When people and entities try to enforce their ideas upon the city, their blinders need to be removed. Let's not loose site of the forest for the trees.

1 comment:

Mark said...

My big worry about this sort of vertical density is that it is so out of character with the rest of the city.

Also, we've fought for years (going back to the 2nd Battle of NO) to reclaim the riverfront. Lining it with glass towers is not going to help.

Even at a more modest scale, if I wanted to live in Kalorama, I could have stayed in DC. It's not a bad atmosphere. I loved DC. But it would be a radical change for New Orleans.