This report will provide an overview of the city of New Orleans, La, describe the Central City planning district and examine the Garden District neighborhood. The focus of the report will be on the Garden District’s history, location, demographics, geography, and economy with the purpose of providing an overview of this area. The physical layout of the area, the differences and similarities in the areas population compared to that of the surrounding area, and also take a look at income, crime and employment rates. In addition, this report will also look at the Master Plan for the city of New Orleans and how it relates to the Garden District.
New Orleans has a long and vibrant history. New Orleans was founded by the French 100 miles north of the mouth of the Mississippi River founded New Orleans (History Channel, 2015). This location made it the busiest port of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1700s. However, the French lost control to the Spanish who then ruled it for 40 years (History Channel, 2015). Then the United States bought it in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. New Orleans has always been known for its distinct Creole and Vibrant local culture. New Orleans has had many battles fought over it, including battles in the War of 1812 and in the Civil War (History Channel, 2015). However, New Orleans most recent troubles are related to poverty, racial turmoil, hurricanes, floods and its land sinking.
The second planning district of New Orleans, known as, central city (The Data Center), which contains the following neighborhoods: Central City, the Garden District, Irish Channel, Lower Garden District, Milan, St. Thomas, Youro, Faubourg Lafayette, and Faubourg Livaidais (Figure 1) (The Data Center). The second planning district is a triangular section of uptown New Orleans. It was not settled until 1915 when a pumping system was invented that could drain the swamplands (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau). The boundaries, for central city, are between St. Charles and South Broad and end at a vertex of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Washington Ave (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau). This area has several major traffic arteries in it but it is considered primarily residential.
Figure 1, (The Data Center). A map of the second planning district and the Garden Districts location in it.
The second planning district has both wealthy homes and poor neighborhoods. Parts of this district have become racially homogeneous and are in an economic downturn. For our purposes we will focus on the Garden District (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau). Bathelemy Lafron planned the Garden District after the Louisiana Purchase. It was meant as a place for Americans moving into the area to mingle with the existing citizens that were of European descent (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau). The residents were wealthy and created beautiful homes. Residents they were able to purchase large lots and cultivate large beautiful gardens, which is the reason its named “The Garden District.
The Garden District has these boundaries St. Charles to Magazine Street and from Jackson Avenue to Louisiana Avenue (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau). As stated earlier the Garden District was once in a swampland but today it is a conglomerate of poorly paved, tree-lined streets and manicured sidewalks. The only park in the neighborhood is Coliseum Square (New Orleans Official Guide, 2015).
Figure 2, (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau). Specific Street Borders of the Garden District.
Of the total available housing units only 86 housing units were built after 2005. The average value of a detached home is $78,432 compare its currently is at 1,221 with only 88.5% of them occupied (The Data Center). A total of 784 of the available homes were built before 1939. The next highest is 213 between 1950 and 1959d to $262,253 in the rest of New Orleans (The Data Center). However, townhouses or attached units have an average price of $877, 976 where as in the rest of New Orleans its an average of $213, 610. In units with 5 –or-more-unit structures (which comprises 11.7% of all units) the average Garden District price is $54, 830 compared to $391,426 in the rest of New Orleans (The Data Center). The preceding the information was all found on City-Data.com. The Garden District is known for homes built in the Italianate, Greek Revival and Victorian Styles (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau).
The Garden District covers an area of .211 square miles, as seen in figure 2, with the population totaling 1,926 as of 2010, giving it a population density of 9,353 people per square miles (figure 3) (City-Data). This is higher than the density in New Orleans, which City data reports is 2,097 (City-Data). The Data Center shows the Garden District has shrunk in size from 2000-2010 (The Data Center). In 2000 it had a population of 1,970, in 2010 the population was 1,926 (figure 4) (The Data Center). This is a total loss of 44 people. Orleans Parish has a whole also lost population between these years. Orleans parish had a total population in 2000 of 484,674 to only 343,828 in 2010 (The Data Center).
Figure 3, (City-Data). Population Density of the Garden District.
This amounts to a loss of 140,845. Of the population in the Garden District, 29.3% of people in the garden district are Caucasians between the ages of 18-34 according to The Data Center. City-Data is more specific saying that, the median age of men is 42.9 years and the median age of women is 39.5 (figure 5) (The Data Center). Only 10.2% of people are below the age of 17 (figure 4). This differs from New Orleans as a whole in these ways: The Data Center reports that, in Orleans Parish 21.3% of the population is below the age of 17 but Orleans Parish is similar to the Garden District in that 29.2% of people are within the ages of 18-34 (figure 4) (The Data Center). Again City-Data is more specific, the average age of a man in New Orleans is 34.5 and women 36.3 (Figure 5) (The Data Center).
Figure 4, (The Data Center). Population of the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
Figure 5, (The Data Center). Percentage of age groups in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
The difference is primarily in the young and the old. The Data center states that 21.3% of people in Orleans parish are under 17 where as only 10.2% of people in The Garden District are below age 17 (figure 5) (The Data Center). 42.1% of people in the garden district are over the age of 35 (19% age 35-49, 22.9% ages 50-64) but only 38.6% of people match this age group in Orleans Parish (figure 5) (The Data Center). The largest ethnic group in the neighborhood is “white alone” (figure 7) (City-Data). Second largest is Hispanic alone with black alone third and people of two or more races tying with other for the least amount of races represented in the Garden District (figure 7) (City-Data). The Data Center breaks this down further stating that according to the 2010 census 88.4% of the Garden District population is white alone, 5% is Hispanic (any race), 3.2% are black or African American, 1.5% are 2 or more races, and 1.3% are Asian, less than 1% fall into American Indian or other (figure 8) (The Data Center). This is vastly different from Orleans Parish, which, in the 2010 census, which places Orleans Parish at 59.6% Black or African American people, 30.5% white 5.2% Hispanic (any race), 2.9% Asian, 1.3% 2 or more races, 0.5% other or American Indian. Both The Garden District and Orleans Parish as a whole are pretty even as far as male to female ratio (figure 8) (The Data Center). 50.8% of people in the Garden District are female, 49.2% are male. In Orleans Parish, 51.6% are female and 48.4% are male (figure 9) (The Data Center). The average age of men in the Garden District is 42.9. Women are a few years younger at an average of 29.5 (figure 6) (City-Data).
Figure 6, (City-Data). Percentage of males and females in the Garden District.
Figure 7, (City-Data). Pie chart of the percentage of different races in the Garden District.
Figure 8, (The Data Center). Exact percentages of races in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
Figure 9, (The Data Center). Percentages of Males and Females in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
As of 2012, the average income in the Garden District is $128,701. This is different from Orleans Parish whose average income is $60,280 (figure 15) (The Data Center). 19.2% of the citizens receive social security benefits and 1.9% receive public assistance but because the census only ask people what types of incomes they receive but does not report what percent of people are receiving more than one type of income we have no definitive way of knowing if these percentages represent the populations only source of income (figure 10) (Data Center Research). The Data Center reports that in the Garden District only 6.2% of people live below the poverty line, Orleans Parish is at 27.2%, with the national level at 14.9% (figure 11) (The Data Center). Comparatively, 88.7% of Garden District’s residents live at or above the poverty line, Orleans Parish is at 72.8%, the nation is at 85.1% (Figure 11) (The Data Center).
Figure 10, (The Data Center). Percentages of types of income in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
Figure 11, (The Data Center). Percentages of population in poverty in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
In the Garden District 18% of males work in Management (9.7% in New Orleans as a city), 26% work in sales and office occupations but only 13.5% in the city of New Orleans (City Data). 18.3% of females work in legal occupations but only 2.4% of the city’s females have this occupation. In the Garden District 12.7% of women are in education, training, Library occupations; its only 10.7% in the city of New Orleans. 11.8% are in service occupations in the Garden District but 24.4% of New Orleans’ female population works in the service industry (City-Data). Area vibes reports that the unemployment rate is 8.2% (figure 12).
Figure 12, (Areavibes.com). Income index in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and Louisiana.
With the average income of a Garden District resident being the six figure range its not surprising that the average price of a detached home, according to city-data, is $78,432, a town house is valued at an average of $877, 976, 2-unit housing structures are an average of $445,584, 5-unit+ housing structures average only $54,830 (figure 13) (City-Data). The medium rental cost (City-Data) in the Garden District is $906, compared to New Orleans as a city which is only $764 (figure 14) (City-Data). Perhaps because rental costs are slightly higher than the city average The Data Center states that renters occupy 52.7% of occupied housing units, with the other 47.3% being Owner occupied (figure 16) (The Data Center). Compared to New Orleans, which is 47.8% renter and 52.2% owner (figure16). The National percentages put renters at 34.9% and owners at 65.1% (figure 16) (The Data Center). This may be due to the fact that 45% of residents in the Garden District are from another state in the U.S. and 1.6% were born outside of the U.S. (City-Data) This may seem like a small amount but roots in other places can, in my opinion, make someone less likely to purchase a home and more likely to rent.
(Florida Department of Transportation, 1998)
Figure 13, (City-Data). Housing prices in the Garden District.
Figure 14, (City-Data). Median Rent in the Garden District.
Figure 15, (The Data Center). Average Household income in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
Figure 16, (The Data Center). Number of renters vs. owners in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
Crime in the Garden District is low. For the year 2013 there was a total crime estimate of 1,856 compared to 4,639 crimes in New Orleans as a whole (Areavibes.com, 2013). Of the 1,856 crimes 315 were violent, with the remaining crimes being crimes against property (Areavibes.com, 2013). On average The Garden District experiences 5.08 crimes per day compared to New Orleans which experiences 12.71 crimes per day. The chances of being a victim of a violent crime in the Garden District are 1 in 318 (Areavibes.com, 2013). Between October 18, 2014 and October 18, 2015 there were 800+ crimes reported in the Garden District area (figure 17) (Crime Mapping, 2015). The majority of the crimes (179) were theft/larceny (figure 18) (Crime Mapping, 2015).
Figure 17, (Crime Mapping, 2015). Number of crimes in the Garden District between 10/18/2014 and 10/18/2015.
Figure 18, Crime trend report pie chart for the Garden District between 10/18/2014 and 10/18/2015.
New Orleans does not a specific plan for the Garden District but it does dedicated Volume 2, Chapter 5 of its Master Plan for the city to neighborhoods and housing (City of New Orleans). The plan includes this vision statement: “Strategies for neighborhood livability must be comprehensive and integrated, taking in to account neighborhoods’ differing needs: Stable neighborhoods that need vigilance to maintain that stability, recovering neighborhoods that were doing well before the storm but are still working toward recover, and revitalization neighborhoods that faced challenges before the storm and, in some cases also experienced storm related damage (City of New Orleans, p. 5.5).” Pages 1-2 use charts to layout the 5 goals of the Neighborhood plan. The 5 goals are: (1) Enhanced character and livability for all neighborhoods, with investments to improve quality of life, (2) Redevelopment of blighted and vacant properties in all neighborhoods, focusing strategies to meet the respective needs of stable, recovering, and revitalization neighborhoods, (3) Access to Retail and services for all neighborhoods, (4) Reinvented housing policies to support quality neighborhoods and meet diverse housing needs of all households, (5) High capacity public sector and neighborhood- based groups, such as neighborhood development corporations, to provide housing responsive to the changing housing needs of current and future residents (City of New Orleans, pp. 5.1-5.2). The Plan also Uses charts to break down each goal to a recommended strategy on how to implement the goals then into how, who, when, resources and where to find more information (City of New Orleans, pp. 5.6-5.15). The plan does recommend that citizens be involved and work with planners. The plan recommends that citizens and planners work together to, “create plans, coordinate implementation, and organize neighborhood process around development proposals (City of New Orleans, p. 5.6).”
The key fault in the New Orleans City Planning Commission’s city plan is that it lacks individual neighborhood plans. It says that it has a neighborhood plan that seeks to accommodate the needs of differing communities but no one plan is ever going to satisfy the needs of every community so by default the New Orleans Neighborhood plan is already behind. The positive side is that they city really does want to preserve each individual neighborhood for its own unique qualities. The city plan lacks a few key things that would make it more effective. The “Overview of Steps in Neighborhood Planning” as outlined in Neighborhood Planning: a Guide for Citizens and Planners there are seven steps that the New Orleans City Planning Commission could’ve taken that would have turned their neighborhood plan into neighborhood plans and would have more accurately and effectively accommodated they neighborhoods of New Orleans. The steps are, in this order, collect information, pinpoint the issues, set goals, come up with alternatives, put the plan together, implement the plan, and monitor, evaluate and update the plan as needed (Jones, 1990). It is apparent that the City Planning Commission left out steps 1-4 in the neighborhoods. Instead of going to each neighborhood individually and creating a plan unique to that neighborhood they created a general, broad overview plan that they intend to fit each neighborhood. However, It is not 100% the role of the City Planning Commission to do this. The neighborhood should form a neighborhood planning team (City of Abilene, 2004) that represents the neighborhood before the commission. Therefore, a possible explanation for the lack of individual neighborhood plans could be that there was a lack of participation amongst neighborhood residents. Overall, the City’s plan for neighborhoods does a decent job of addressing issues that are common amongst neighborhoods but fails to address each problem that is unique to an area.
When seeking out a neighborhood meeting to attend the Garden District Association representative, Shelley Landrieu, advised they had no more upcoming meetings this year but suggested an upcoming neighborhood participation event. The purpose of the participation meeting was in regards to a development project currently in the beginning stages. The development project in discussion is Our Lady of Good Counsel School being converted into apartments. Part of the process of obtaining the appropriate approvals is a neighborhood participation meeting.
The Our Lady of Good Counsel Development Project (henceforth referred to as the Good Counsel Apartment Project) neighborhood participation meeting occurred November 12th from 6pm until 6:40pm at The Rink, a commercial and shopping building with a meeting area in the center, which is located at the corner of Washington Avenue and Prytania Street.
A man stood up and introduced himself as Richard Roth, the owner and developer. Richard is a tax attorney, whose office is located in The Rink. He stated there are two other developers associated with the project: Ryan Goudey and Jason Hemel. The architect of the project Peter Trapolin was also there. In addition to Richard speaking a woman Cynthia also spoke. Her position was never given.
The first thing that was stated is that the Good Counsel Apartment Project plans to access State and Federal tax credits. The primary reason or cause of this is the historical nature of the building. The building was original a catholic school, Our Lady of Good Council. Its last year of use was 1996 and has remained vacant and unused since then. The developers plan to maintain the historical integrity of the outside of the building. The inside will be divided into apartment units but the overall historic value will remain intact. Currently the site is zoned as single family or two-family dwelling only.
They plan to make them high-end apartments, with zero low-income or subsidized housing. At the current preliminary stages, they plan to have 22 units. 10 one-bedroom units and 12 2 bedroom units. They plan to leave as many current partitions in place so they can retain the historic tax credits. The 22 units will range in size from 637 sq. ft. to 1250 sg. Ft. They plan to have 18 parking spots. Currently New Orleans requires one-to-one parking for apartment units. Due to current zoning they will be applying to have the zoning changed to multi-family dwelling use AND apply for a variance to allow them to have only 18 parking units for 22 housing units. They also mentioned potential to convert to condominiums AFTER the five years required by the tax credits are over.
The following will address the concerns mentioned by the residents and the counters by the developers:
- There isn’t enough parking
- The current driveway isn’t wide enough for two cars
- Density of housing vs. density of parking isn’t equal
- The amount of parking proposed isn’t equal to the housing
- Developer: We are willing to reduce housing units to accommodate parking density concerns.
- Will changes to the buildings historic values be made?
- Developer: NO. They will not add on or change the over structure of the building.
- Resident: what is the rent range?
- Developer: $2 per sg. ft. but it could change if market values are different when they go on the market.
- Reassures the neighborhood residents that because of the tax credits they absolutely will protect the historic aesthetic of the building
- Resident: “Parking is the nature of the neighborhood. You know when you buy a house here that you will have park on the street.”
I spoke to a resident of the neighborhood after the meeting ended. I approached her with my name, and my reason for being there and then asked her if she had any concerns that she didn’t get a chance to voice in the meeting. She said her main concern was resolved pretty early on. She was primarily worried that they would turn the development into low-income or subsidized housing and no one wants to live near, “those people.” Once that concern was alleviated her other main concern was the amount of construction in the area. The area this project is on has, according to her, been repaved twice in the last three years and will soon be changed to a one-lane road. She is worried about the amount of construction in the area causing congestion in the area, as she lives only a block and a half from the project site. Otherwise she felt good about the project because she hates to see the building to continue to sit there unused.
This meeting achieved its purpose, which was for the developers to get the input of the people currently living in the area. They wrote down and took note of all the concerns of the residents and promised to take those into consideration. At the end of the meeting the residents seems comforted and there concerns, at least temporarily, alleviated. The meeting also included several elements of an effective meeting (Florida Department of Transportation, 1998, p. 4.3.1). The staff was well prepared for the level they were at in the project. The presenters were enthusiastic about what they were talking about and seemed well briefed on the information they were presenting. Lastly, they had a layout, in terms of seating, for the meeting that allowed the attendees to effectively view the presentation screen but, it was inconvenient for other attendees to look at an attendee that was speaking because the layout was simply rows of chairs facing forwards that did not allow for group conversation. One thing they were lacking that would have made it more effective is the layout of the meeting content. I felt like they could have arranged the info on the slide in a different order to make it more fluid and to better answer questions. However, the info was clear and concise and easy to understand. It just could have been in a better order. They did however, make sure that residents were properly notified, that the meeting location was convenient, the time was appropriate to the intended attendees and that the meeting lasted and appropriate length of time.
This section of the report is to provide information on the neighborhood association of the Garden District and to describe, via an article, a neighborhood planning issues in the community.
The Garden District, New Orleans, La has a neighborhood association called, The Garden District Association (GDA). Their mission is, “To preserve and improve the Garden District as a vital, historic residential neighborhood.” The GDA is considered a non-profit neighborhood organization. The Association is open to all residents, business owners, and interested individuals who want to take an active role in all matters that are of interest to the neighborhood. All of this information can be found at: https://gardendistrictassociation.com/about.
The article titled, “Condo on St. Charles gets thumbs up, condo at State and Tchoupitoulas gets thumbs down.” The article was published on September 22nd, 2015 on the news website called Uptown Messenger. The article can be found at http://uptownmessenger.com/2015/09/city-planning-commission-hears-requests-for-uptown-condos-other-projects-live-coverage/. The article discusses how one condo got approved in the area and one did not, “A new condo building on St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District received approval from city planners on Tuesday, but a larger condo project intended to replace an apartment complex at State Street and Tchoupitoulas was recommended for denial…” It explains the reasoning for doing so was a matter of zoning issues. One reason for the denial of the State and Tchoupitoulas project was the city planning staff who classifies the area as low-density and that multi-family housing units can be preserved but there cannot be new ones built. In the case of the St. Charles Avenue building the City planning Commission Chair Kyle Wedberg said that the building proposal was “worth supporting” but did not give a specific reason for approval (Morris, 2015).
The Garden District is a predominately white neighborhood with an average age of 37.9. The residents here are a mixed group of homeowners and home renters who have an average income that’s in the six figures. It has a long, rich history as an area with beautiful gardens and antique homes. This area has lost population in recent years but so has much of New Orleans. It is relatively low in crime, those crimes that do occur are primarily theft. The city of New Orleans has a Master Plan with a section specifically geared towards the revitalization of New Orleans’ unique neighborhoods, including the Garden District.
- Figure 1, (The Data Center). A map of the second planning district and the Garden Districts location in it.
- Figure 2, (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau). Specific street borders of the Garden District
- Figure 3, (City-Data). Population Density of the Garden District.
- Figure 4, (The Data Center). Population of the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 5, (The Data Center). Percentage of age groups in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 6, (City-Data). Percentage of males and females in the Garden District.
- Figure 7, (City-Data). Pie chart of the percentage of different races in the Garden District.
- Figure 8, (The Data Center). Exact percentages of races in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 9, (The Data Center). Percentages of Males and Females in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 10, (The Data Center). Percentages of types of income in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 11, (The Data Center). Percentages of population in poverty in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 12, (Areavibes.com). Income index in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and Louisiana.
- Figure 13, (City-Data). Housing prices in the Garden District.
- Figure 14, (City-Data). Median Rent in the Garden District.
- Figure 15, (The Data Center). Average Household income in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 16, (The Data Center). Number of renters vs. owners in the Garden District vs. Orleans Parish and the U.S.
- Figure 17, (Crime Mapping, 2015). Number of crimes in the Garden District between 10/18/2014 and 10/18/2015.
- Figure 18, (Crime Mapping, 2015). Crime trend report pie chart for the Garden District between 10/18/2014 and 10/18/2015.
Areavibes.com. (2013). Garden District, New Orleans, La Crime & Statistics. Retrieved October 18, 2015, from http://www.areavibes.com: http://www.areavibes.com/new+orleans-la/garden+district/crime/
Areavibes.com. (n.d.). Garden District, New Orleans, LA Employment & Jobs. Retrieved September 5, 2015, from http://www.areavibes.com: http://www.areavibes.com/new orleans-la/garden district/employment/
Center for Neighborhood Development. (2003). Principles of Neighborhood Planning for Community Development. Cleveland State University, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. Cleveland: Cleveland State university.
Central City Neighborhood Planning District 2 Rebuilding Plan. (n.d.). Retrieved September 5, 2015, from http://www.nolaplans.com: http://www.nolaplans.com/plans/Lambert%20Final/District_2_Final_Central%20City.pdf
City of Abilene. (2004). Super Neighborhood Plan Workbook. City of Abilene: Neighborhood Services. Abilene: City of Abilene.
City of New Orleans. (n.d.). Master Plan. Retrieved October 19, 2015, from http://www.nola.gov: http://www.nola.gov/getattachment/ce3fd018-ae09-4ec7-8b6d-09948d2ef628/Vol-2-Ch-5-Neighborhoods-and-Housing/
City of New Orleans: Historic District Landmarks Commission. (2007). Garden District Historic District. Retrieved October 19, 2015, from http://www.nola.gov: https://www.nola.gov/nola/media/HDLC/Historic%20Districts/Garden.pdf
City-Data. (n.d.). Garden District neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana (LA), 70115, 70130 detailed profile ta.com/neighborhood/Garden-District-New-Orleans-LA.html#ixzz3oxUNHcWJ. Retrieved Septemeber 5, 2015, from http://www.city-data.com: http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Garden-District-New-Orleans-LA.html
Jones, B. (1990). Neighborhood Planning: A Guide for Citizens and Planners. Chicago, Illinois: Planners Press.
New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. (n.d.). Garden District: A Grand New Orleans Neighborhood. Retrieved Septemeber 4, 2015, from http://www.neworleanscvb.com: http:neworleanscvb.com/visit/neighborhoods/garden-district/
New Orleans Official Guide. (2015). Garden District/Uptown. Retrieved September 5, 2015, from http://www.neworleansonline.com: http://www.neworleansonline.com/tools/neighborhoodguide/uptown.html
The Data Center. (n.d.). Central City Statistical Area. Retrieved Septemeber 5, 2015, from http://www.datacenterreasearch.org: http://www.datacenterresearch.org/data-resources/neighborhood-data/district-2/central-city/