New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood was once a stronghold of rich cultural traditions and bustling local businesses. While the arts remain vibrant within this tight community, the area has suffered economically over the past decades.
Now, a new local initiative aims to restore economic vitality along one commercial corridor in the neighborhood.
The ArtWorks building near Lee Circle is up for sale once again. The $25 million, 93,000-square-foot building was built as a creative space for artists, but closed its doors 2 years ago after having financial trouble. Now, two groups are bidding to purchase the space.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu applied for $100 million in state construction funds on Friday to redevelop the former Charity Hospital building. Renovating the building would cost around $300 million, and revitalize a moribund stretch of downtown.
It is highly unlikely that Governor Bobby Jindal and state legislators will give Mayor Landrieu the full $100 million next year. He asked for $100 million this year as well. He got $13 million.
Standing on Canal Street, Pres Kabacoff describes his ideas to redevelop downtown New Orleans. The parking lot across the street would become a new mall to rival Lakeside Shopping Center. The old Charity Hospital, in the background, would be the home to City Hall, Civil District Court and a neuroscience research center.
Developer Pres Kabacoff says he is a man on a mission to transform downtown. If the city center can be revitalized, he says, and the river can be connected to the lake, it would transform the entire city of New Orleans.
The problem of blight in New Orleans has hardly disappeared with the uptick in the city’s housing market. And on one quiet block in Mid-City, a very hot piece of real estate and a blighted home are existing side by side.
Local contractor Pete Becnel sold his renovated D’Hemecourt Street house in 24 hours. Just next door sits a house abandoned since Katrina. The crudely fashioned escape hatch from the roof is still visible.