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New Zoning for Waterfront Property Could Be a Game Changer

Image via Gerald Herbert/AP
Not since the 1970's has NOLA been on the brink of adopting new zoning rules to allow condos and commercial properties to be erected along the Mississippi River.

While NOLA rebuilds from Hurricane Katrina, the code could reset the rules for redevelopment of valuable land near the river downtown.

The new ordinance would affect zoning on slices of 34 acres that run two miles along the Mississippi River, and that lie next to the historic neighborhoods of Faubourg Marigny, Bywater and Algiers Point on the river's east and west banks.

In the works? A public promenade along the river that allows for complementary condos and commercials buildings from 75 to over 100 feet tall.

Currently, residents aren't able to enjoy the river, because their homes and streets are cut off by high floodwalls, levees, and unused industrial infrastructure like railroad tracks, warehouses, dock yards, mills, and wharfs. Now that we've moved past an era of steamships and modernized our ports, we need to enact a new plan.

The City Council is expected to take up the zoning code challenge in March.

Of course, this move is not without controversy. Neighborhood activists, banded together as the Riverfront Alliance, are fighting against a future frought with luxury housing that will drive out the existing residents who live in the historic one- and two-story "shotgun" houses and Creole cottages. Some developers, such as hotelier and developer Sean Cummings, who owns prime property, calls the plan a "wet blanket on commerce" by giving too much power to city planners--but he wants an even more aggressive plan for change.

Others see the onslaught of new potential residents as good for business and a boost in population; in Bywater, the number of people has halved since the 1960s.

Stay tuned for more developments, good or bad.