At the Urban Land Institute’s 2023 Emerging Trends in Real Estate conference presenters from New Orleans and other areas in Louisiana discussed public development projects, environmental resilience and housing affordability. Below are the highlights.

Public Projects

Jack Shaevitz of the City of New Orleans and John Spain of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation discussed public projects. 

Jack Shaevitz noted that the Parks and Recreation Master Plan for New Orleans is currently in the community engagement stage, and residents can participate in focus groups, workshops and surveys. The City is completing a park inventory and condition assessment to determine how services should be delivered going forward, and they intend to develop a neighborhood report card showing equity and environmental resilience scores to help ensure more equitable access to these assets and use of these assets for environmental resilience.

John Spain described the renovation of the LSU university lakes in Baton Rouge. The foundation hopes to make the lakes more safe for walking, biking and fishing by deepening the lakes and providing more walking paths. They will also provide canoes, kayaks and food and beverage access. The project is funded by $62 million in city, parish, state, LSU and private funding.

Living With Water in New Orleans

A panel of speakers discussed challenges and opportunities related to living with water in New Orleans.

Rami Diaz and Andy Sternad of Waggoner & Ball discussed the Gentilly Resilience District which is intended to manage water where it falls and reduce flooding by 30%. Mirabeau Water Garden will have garden areas for water absorption but also trails, room for community events, a splash park and a pump station. They also discussed water projects in other states. For example, in Charleston, where they have only 1/10 of New Orleans’ level of funding for water mitigation, the government is partnering with historic organizations and developers, who are being incentivized to develop on higher ground. In Norfolk, Virginia, they created “living shorelines” and a pump station which also acts as a community gathering space.

Seth Knudsen of New Orleans Redevelopment Authority discussed the National Disaster Resilience Competition grant which provided HANO money for rain gardens, detention basins, permeable pavers, rain barrels, trees and more. The 192 projects arising out of the grant have combined stormwater capacity of 568,000 gallons, which means they can store the first inch of water created by a storm, rather than having it go into the drainage system. He noted that we should consider imposing a stormwater impact fee for failure to implement runoff reduction, and the fee could be used for other mitigation activities.

Affordable Housing

A panel presented by HomeBank discussed housing affordability strategies.

Steven Kennedy described his use of public financing in connection with the Baronne Lofts Development for senior housing in Central City. He faced many challenges including a requirement for a conditional use and significant unexpected expenses to meet Section 106 requirements. However, he noted that Entergy and City agencies provided him significant resources including a payment in lieu of taxes. He also received low-income housing tax credits.  He noted his focus on sustainability including stormwater management, solar panels, xeriscaping and EnergyStar appliances.

Veronica Reed of Jane Place Initiative, a housing justice nonprofit founded after Hurricane Katrina, discussed its goals and initiatives to build permanently affordable, community-controlled housing and support equitable housing policies. Among other things, Jane Place representatives monitor eviction court, help notify tenants of evictions, publicize the right to counsel in eviction, participate in the Healthy Homes Coalition, draft reports and white papers on evictions, advocate against short term rentals and facilitate tenant organizing and training regarding renters’ rights. Jane Place is also a community land trust which owns 10 properties on behalf of the community and uses them to promote affordability and sustainable development and mitigate inequity. Jane Place members earn equity in the form of rent credits by participating in the organization.

Jackie Dadakis of Green Cost Enterprises discussed building code changes. For example, properties located in flood zones must build one foot above the flood zone (known as “freeboard”). This requirement saves money over time by decreasing flood events and flood claims, which maintains insurability and reduces the cost of insurance. Roofs can also be built to “fortified” requirements, and this prevents water from entering the home even if some singles fly off. Fortified roofs are eligible for a discount of 25% on insurance premiums. Louisiana also adopted the 2021 energy code, which should reduce lifetime operating costs of homes by about 30%. Dadakis noted that meeting these requirements will help Louisiana meet federal requirements for rebuilding dollars.

ULI 2023 Emerging Trends in Real Estate Report

Emerging Trends in Real Estate® is a trends and forecast publication now in its 44th edition, and is one of the most highly regarded and widely read forecast reports in the real estate industry. Emerging Trends in Real Estate® 2023, undertaken jointly by PwC and the Urban Land Institute, provides an outlook on real estate investment and development trends, real estate finance and capital markets, property sectors, metropolitan areas, and other real estate issues throughout the United States and Canada.

Download ULI’s 2023 Emerging Trends in Real Estate report >

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