By Robert M. Steeg
As a firm devoted exclusively to real estate and business law, our work is intricately tied to the direction and future of New Orleans. When New Orleans is doing well, our clients are buying, selling, leasing, developing, planning, and expanding. We are part of that growth. It’s what we do, and we take a lot of pride in it.
Lately there have been quite a few pieces written about the future of New Orleans. Of course, a lot of this interest is prompted by the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. In addition, since we are in hurricane season, there is interest in the hurricane protection system. And, as New Orleans continues to be at the top of various lists for new business growth, many people are drilling down to try to see whether that growth, and the atmosphere it creates, will last.
With that in mind, I offer some links to several recent reports and articles about the City and its future, with some anecdotal observations based on our firm’s activities about the issues raised in these pieces.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has been running comprehensive surveys of New Orleanians ever since the rebuilding after Katrina began, and they recently released their findings in the following report.
NPR has been doing a series of special reports based on those findings.
On August 1, 2015 The New York Times ran an article by well-known author John Barry, outlining his view of the hydrological future of the city.
On June 30, 2015, Nola.com and The Times-Picayune offered the views of nine prominent experts in a piece about the city’s future, with nine very different perspectives on what matters and how the city is doing.
At our firm, we see first-hand the “gentrification” issue as we represent clients in developing areas like Mid-City, the Bywater, and Marigny. We have years of expertise in working on the complex legal issues affecting the Riverfront, and it appears certain that the Mississippi River will be one of the major focal points of the development of New Orleans in the future. The “greening” of New Orleans can be found not only in the bike lanes described in the Nola.com piece, but also in many provisions of the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) on matters such as water sustainability requirements for new development. (The CZO was recently passed by the City Planning Commission, of which I am a member, and by the City Council, and will go into effect August 12, 2015.)
The hydrological, political and social issues, of course, underlie and ultimately will determine the city’s future of all these other points. It’s a dialogue we need to have, and the links to the articles and reports provided above are a good place to start.