New Orleans Meets Housing Demand Downtown

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One of the most surprising trends of the 1990s was the rebirth of downtown housing demand in America’s largest cities.

November 01, 2000

One of the most surprising trends of the 1990s was the rebirth of downtown housing demand in America’s largest cities. New York, Chicago, and San Francisco were the first to have thriving downtown housing markets. Now the trend is spreading to just about every city in the country. New Orleans is a prime example, where "The Saulet" tells a story.

On 13 acres formerly occupied by derelict warehouse buildings, Greystar Capital Partners of Houston, Texas, is now halfway through a 22-month construction schedule that will produce 704 units of class A, market-rate rental apartments in three- and four-story buildings. It’s all part of a mixed-use redevelopment project, called "The Saulet," that is the largest in the inner city in 50 years. Unit options include attached private garages and live/work configurations.

Located at Annunciation and Race Streets, within the River Park development master plan, the site represents a new gateway into the Lower Garden District. What makes it work?

"There’s already been a lot of warehouse renovation into loft apartments in the area," says project architect Mark Wolf of Dallas-based James, Harwick + Partners. "But we’re redeveloping five city blocks into new rental buildings supported by three parking facilities, as well as on-street parking and a few surface lots.

"The site is close to the central business district, which is the employment driver, but it’s also very close to the convention center, which is continuing to expand. We expect some entertainment-type uses to emerge there."

That’s the key. The target market is young, urban professionals, the same demographic group that drove the beginnings of the urban housing rebirth in New York and Chicago. They want to be where the action is. Close to work is good, but close to play is even more important.

Now, New York and Chicago are even adding baby boomer empty-nesters to their growing downtown populations.

"That plate won’t roll in New Orleans," says Wolf. "At least, not yet."

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