This post was authored by Curbed NOLA contributor April Siese.
New Orleans changed a lot last year (and not just because Curbed NOLA finally launched) but given what 2014 has planned, this year is going to be even bigger when it comes to game-changing neighborhood developments. We dug around for the top trends and projects to watch out for as things unfold. In a nutshell, expect to pay more to rent here, enjoy more public art and theaters, drink more coffee, and fall in love with Bywater all over again.
1. The New New Orleans
Forget it turning into the year of the Snake. This year it's all about the future of New Orleans, where finding a house (especially Uptown) has become a nearly impossible task, to say nothing of the swift city-wide cultural changes when it comes to who's living where. Who will be priced out and how will neighborhoods change to accommodating the new face of New Orleans?
2. Seriously expensive real estate to buy and rent
Suddenly $1,000 a month doesn't get you as much as it used to. In a June 2013 Times-Pic article, it was revealed that the average rental price in NOLA's historic center (that's the French Quarter, Downtown, Warehouse District, Mid-City, and St. Charles Avenue corridor) exceeds that grand mark at $1,291 a month. Compare that to just five years ago, where one bedroom and two bedroom apartments were renting for between $733 and $892 a month, and you've got some serious price increases, most notably in the one-bedroom slot. Living alone may have its perks but cheap rent isn't one of them.
3. The Central Business District becoming more neighborhoody
Now that the 234 Loyola building is turning into affordable housing and the Triangle Building is set to become luxury apartments, it looks like maybe those trendy neighborhood lists were onto something when they said that the CBD was the place to be. Who knew?
4. More murals
Who wouldn't want the gorgeous artistry of MTO adorning an entire side of their house? 2013 saw the completion of two large-scale projects from the Berlin-based artist. A Seventh Ward home was seemingly chosen at random for MTO's "Louisiana Blue Note", delighting the homeowner, his neighbors and NOLA Rising's Rex Dingler, who helped facilitate the project. MTO also hit up new Freret Street hotspot Gasa Gasa for a loud and proud mural named after the burgeoning venue itself.
5. More theaters
2013 saw the grand re-opening of the cutting-edge Civic Theatre and the stately, gorgeous Saenger. With rumors swirling around the future of the Orpheum (they're up for an amusement zoning okay) and even more for sale/for rent signs adorning the Loew's State Palace Theatre, could two more downtown theaters be looking to renovate and return to production?
6. The rich, famous, and historic
National Urban League president Marc Morial's former home went on the market and American Horror Story:Coven wowed the nation with its beautiful Buckner Mansion. Though Morial's (a former New Orleans mayor and son of NOLA's first African-American Mayor Dutch Morial) old abode is still on the market, its price has actually risen from $425,000 to a steep $675,000. The Buckner Mansion, on the other hand, rents for a cool $20,000 and is valued at well over $1-million, according to realtor.com. Imagine what the future holds for more filming and home sales in the city.
7. Frenchmen Street's future
Noise ordinances may be quieting the street known for its all-night entertainment, but the community is fighting back. The controversial hotspot Bamboula's also signals a new direction for Frenchmen Street, which many neighbors seem to oppose. Add to that the Louisiana Music Factory and Dat Dog making a new home on the street, and you've got a lot changing in a small area.
8. More coffee shops
New Orleans is turning into more than a cafe au lait or coffee with chicory town. New coffee shops like Spitfire and Church Alley are making caffeine the new trend in small business. Add to that the opening of District Donuts and New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co. and you've got a bevy of coffee and coffee-related foods to sate your palette at all hours.
9. Magnolia Market and the dawn of the strip mall
With construction just starting up on the Elmwood Shopping Center of Central City, you'll have even less of a reason to venture out to Metairie. The market is set to open in 2015 but that doesn't mean the entire S. Claiborne area won't be changing even faster than it takes to erect a strip mall.
10. What's next for ArtWorks and community spaces
The future of the Artworks building all depends on a few bidders, but if Launch Pad have their way, the space could turn into a collaborative work space. Could more community spaces be on the way?
11. HANO homes and oddities
A lot of seriously unique NOLA properties are up for sale and auction, including several historic firehouses. Given the city's creative bent and eye for ingenuity, it'll be interesting to see which properties get picked up from the Housing Authority of New Orleans and which buildings deemed "no longer needed" by the city become more than their original usage entailed. HANO homes up for sale previously sat untouched or unused for their original purposes of integrating low-income families into various neighborhoods throughout the city.
12. Bywater defends its Curbed Cup title
The hottest hood in NOLA already boasts a new restaurant in the form of gastropub Oxalis. and some seriously quirky real estate. Those three listed homes range from $316,000 to $499,000 and offer everything from original heart of pine wood floors to ultra-modern kitchens. Add to that their vibrant exteriors and you've got quintessential Bywater homes. Of course, those aren't the only houses on the market and Oxalis isn't the only big restaurant change coming to the neighborhood. Who knows what else will open, close, and transform in an area where it's as common to see a tall bike gliding by as it is to catch local icon Mr. Okra idling through with fresh veggies?
13. Making more groceries
The St. Roch Market has already been a hot story to watch, especially since the community wants it to be an affordable alternative to larger chains like Winn-Dixie and Rouses. Hopefully its 12 stalls also rival the nearby New Orleans Food Co-Op in terms of healthfulness. Other supermarkets to watch: Circle Food Store plans to re-open by the end of this month and the Whole Foods on Broad Street has a February 4 opening date.
14. Even weirder Craigslist and Airbnb
C'mon, y'all. This clearly isn't really the coolest rental in the Quarter. If 2013 was any indication, the new year holds all sorts of flashy Craigslist posts, questionable Airbnb rentals, and more. If leopard print, Dolly Parton décor, and kiddie pools can be seen as amenities, who knows what the future holds for residents trying to make their pads more marketable?