Sunday, July 26, 2009

It's the truth. My car needs at least one new tire anyhow, but I have to drive carefully, as Washington Avenue is being ripped up from Carrollton Ave to Napoleon Ave, Louisiana Ave is getting a resurfacing as well, and some streets closer to the lakefront are getting the submerged roads treatment. As far as I'm concerned, all the roads around here have desperately needed the submerged roads treatment since long before 8-29-05, but hey, there's only so much concrete and asphalt that can be least when it comes to the roads.

When it comes to other sorts of buildings, however, the concrete and asphalt can be molded into many other forms. So far, there's a lot of piles being driven into the ground, a great deal of dirt being pushed around up the street from me, and a whole lot of heraldry that has been pasted up on an abandoned building nearby:

Construction is under way on The Muses Apartments, a new complex that aims to revitalize the Central City neighborhood.

The apartments will front Felicity, Baronne and Carondelet streets between St. Charles Avenue and Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. The Muses will be a mixed-income development on a 4.5-acre lot that has been vacant for about 10 years. Originally, an Albertsons grocery store was supposed to be built on the property, but the plans never came to fruition.

“It’s a great location,” said Kathy Laborde, president of the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership. “It has access to St. Charles, and it bridges two neighborhoods — Central City and the Garden District.”...

...Developers say attracting people off St. Charles and toward Oretha Castle Haley and creating residences for more than 200 New Orleanians will be a boon for the newly developing commercial corridor on Oretha Castle Haley, where neighborhood advocates hope to eventually attract local and national retailers.

“We’re building businesses, and they need people,” said Lynnette Colin, executive director of the Oretha Castle Haley Merchants and Business Association. “This is going to add a structure to a massive amount of land that had been vacant and blighted.”

Recent discussions with a friend of mine about most people's attitudes towards commercial development here in the city, and this editorial that speaks of how suspicious folks here tend to be of the multifamily housing unit, make me wonder how truly beneficial this latest building project will be. Living in an area that has three conglomerations of those multifamily housing units has warped my brain a tad, I admit, because all three of those buildings of which I speak are condos.

Thing is, my experiences with apartment houses in other places has taught me that sometimes one just can't help but live in a multifamily housing unit, no matter who one is, what one does, or what one's economic status is. This is one of the storied battlefields where historical preservation and economic development collide...and it is largely because of the crazy ways in which people have usually proposed revitalizing decrepit neighborhoods and/or vacant commercial properties in these parts.

"It'll mess with the atmosphere of New Orleans" is the least of it. Too many forms of proposed commercial development have revolved around bars, restaurants, and frou-frou stores, so much so that even a more useful, basic form of commercial development - the Albertson's grocery store that was supposed to be where the Muses Apartments are currently going up - had trouble getting off the ground, stalled, and collapsed. We are not a business-friendly city, and we don't like it much when we are surrounded by slumlords that can't maintain their where do we go from here?

I'll tell you what we don't go for.

Stay as far away as you can from the idiotic recession myths and platitudes. Except for the one about not switching to cheaper scotch, just drink slower. I can relate to that one.

(thanks, Lizzy)


mominem said...

People here are just plain suspicious of any change.

The Vieux Carre survived only because it was an Italian slum.

Anonymous said...

It's not even factual, that "fact." First Gates started it with Paul Allen, not by himself. That may be a minor objection. More notably, there was a 1974-75 recession, according to the National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER), but it had ended by the time Microsoft was founded, in May. The company's first major success and major growth occurred in the mid-1980s, with DOS, regardless. Let's not even talk about how not everybody has the smarts or background (not hugely privileged, but he was a Harvard student, even if dropped out), but ... that sign's not accurate even in basic details.
-- Ray M

Leigh C. said...

Exactly, Ray.

I saw the billboard on the Earhart Expressway and couldn't believe how dumb that statement was. It has nothing to do with anything.