I had all good intentions to post this yesterday before I went out to celebrate Mardi Gras. Crawfish and Abita at the Village Pourhouse & Oddfellow’s spoiled my plans.
Hoboken Real Estate News took a brief hiatus last week to visit another cool city with a flood problem – New Orleans. Our dog, Sempai, was a Duke in the Krewe of Barkus parade. The entire week was amazing but parading through the French Quarter on a sunny Sunday along with hundreds of dogs and their owners and thousands of spectators lining the streets was spectacular.
I noticed some interesting real-estate related things, too. The NAR held the first convention in the convention center right after Katrina and we attended. In the intervening 7 years some amazing work has been done to restore homes and neighborhoods, clean and renovate City Park, where we spent a good part of our time, and bring the beauty back to one of America’s greatest cities. Of course, a lot more remains to be done.
People are able to drink in the streets and party all night long, not only during Mardi Gras, but throughout the year, without turning the entire neighborhood into chaos. The police have the crowd control thing down to an art and the morning clean up crew does an amazing job. The bars pay their fair share and then some. Maybe Hoboken officials should take a trip down to the Big Easy to pick up some pointers. Given Hoboken’s obsession with Lepre-Con, I was surprised how calm things were last night here in Hoboken for Mardi Gras – what a great occasion for a party!
The dog parks are truly amazing. Your pup can enjoy City Bark, for $43 per year (it is gated with an electronic key pass) and worth every penny. There are sand lots, fountains, hoses, bathing and grooming areas, swimming tubs, shade trees, grassy hills and dales, huge new spotlights for at night, obstacle courses, and an awesome set of rules which Hoboken ought to adopt for our own dog parks. Break the rules and your dog park access is revoked.
The parks in general are gorgeous. Louis Armstrong Park last time I visited it was, let’s say, sketchy. The former Mayor Nagin rushed renovation work to get the park open and take credit for it’s renovation before he left office and mistakes were made. (Sound familiar?) Now it’s a gem.
It’s nestled between the French Quarter and Tremé-Lafitte. Lakes and walking bridges, beautiful scupltures, the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, new lighting, ADA modifications and more yet to come.
City Park, in mid-city, has 2 golf courses and a driving range, an equestrian center, a tennis center with 26 courts, botanical gardens, an amusement park, boat and bike rentals, 9 playing fields, 2 stadiums, the New Orleans Museum of Art, a sculpture garden, 11 miles of lagoons for fishing, and more! It is 1 1/2 times the size of Central Park, at 1300 acres but it was completely underwater after Katrina. Howie did volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity helping to clean the park while I was at the NAR convention back in 2006. It was very gratifying to see the progress made. With a real master plan and more work planned, the outcome is simply astonishing. And get this – over 80% of the operating funds for the park are self-generated. It was 100% prior to Katrina and that is the goal. It doesn’t cost the local taxpayers a penny. Again, a model for Hoboken to perhaps study.
The NOLA real estate market is different than ours in that there are far more small, affordable single family homes and far fewer condos. You can get a great house for $300,000 in a good part of town. We, of course, had to take a look at some condos. My two favorites so far are this 2BR condo at 3523 Camp for $289,000. It’s 1120 sq. ft with a private garage and it’s a block from Magazine (the Washington St. of NOLA) in the Uptown Garden District. I also love this 2 BR condo on the 700 block of Dauphine for $274,000 in the quiet part of the French Quarter. Maintenance is high because of the price of flood insurance – just like in Hoboken.
You can learn so much by traveling and visiting other neighborhoods. There are some real lessons to be learned in New Orleans. Most importantly, for a city that endured a devastating catastrophe, not so long ago, the community has pulled together and the government has (mostly) done the right thing to bring it back even better than before. If NOLA could succeed at such a turn around, imagine what Hoboken could do.