clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Top 10 Real Estate Controversies and News-Makers of the Post-Katrina Decade

New, 1 comment

Skyrocketing prices, gentrification, controversial developments, celebrity home-buyers, Robert Durst — New Orleans has seen it all in the decade following Hurricane Katrina. While there are probably too many stories to recall, we've rounded up 10 of our favorite real estate controversies and news-makers in the past decade. Was there a development that rankled your neighborhood, a movie star that moved to your 'hood, or any other of your favorite real estate stories we're missing? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

(presented in no particular order)


Brad Pitt's Making it Right
Brad Pitt rounded up a slate of veritable starchitects to build a total of 109 energy-efficient, uber-modern homes in the flood-devastated Lower 9th Ward. While it has dealt with some controversy, including a crop of bad wood and claims that the endeavor was too costly, the organization is still going strong: it's building a tiny house in the neighborhood and will be hosting a benefit concert/party at the end of the month.

The celebrity influx
Speaking of Brad Pitt, he and equally famous wife Angelina Jolie moved to New Orleans in 2007 to be closer to Pitt's work with Make it Right. They recently listed their $6.5 million French Quarter mansion, but claim they will buy in a more "off-the-beaten" path New Orleans neighborhood soon. Other celebrities who have bought in New Orleans in the post-Katrina decade, citing proximity to the Hollywood South boom and/or general infatuation? Sandra Bullock, real estate raconteur Nicolas Cage, Arcade Fire couple Win Butler and Regine Chassagne and (we think) Beyonce and Solange Knowles. Speaking of ...

Knowles madness
Solange Knowles announced she was relocating to New Orleans amid much fanfare that included a busted Bywater move. We know she lives here and runs Exodus Goods and throws parties at Masonic lodges, but we're not sure exactly where. Another thing we're not sure of that seems likely: we connected the dots earlier this year and figured out that Beyonce most likely bought an old church-turned-ballet school in the Garden District.

Kirsha Kaechele
Oh man, what a delight this character was. The globetrotting art celeb did her part to rebuild New Orleans by creating giant art installations out of blighted homes and having "artistic dinners" with guests the likes of Uma Thurman. She left New Orleans for Tasmania, leaving her art projects to decay (again), and gave this interview to The Lens in 2011 that includes quotes like "I see myself as a life artist."

Rice Mill Lofts/Daniel Lobo, via Flickr

Sean Cummings/Eskistics
Another impresario but of the high-end hipster real estate sort, his development firm spearheaded the on-purpose-graffiti-filled Rice Mill Lofts in Bywater, rankled the neighborhood with a proposed development on Elysian Fields Avenue, and has another Bywater project in the works featuring his signature pseudo-poetic language. His projects are always beautiful, but they're couched in such eye-rolly language that it's impossible to not make fun.


The New Orleans public housing "makeover"
In 2007, the city decided to demolish and redevelop New Orleans' "big four" public housing complexes to make way for for pleasant-looking mixed-income developments. The move was part of a national trend of mix-income housing developments, but the storm was certainly an impetus. Some say the redevelopments have contributed to a severe lack of affordable housing in the city.

The "art house" with a probably-unsafe punk rock playground
The NOLA Art House, an 1870s Creole mansion-turned-artist colony known for its backyard playland, was the arty party spot for a while until it was shut down after code violations. According to the New Orleans Assessor's office, it appears to have sold for $395,000 in 2014.

Photo: courtesy Caroline Thomas

To Airbnb, or Not to Airbnb?
The short-term rental service has caused serious controversy in this tourist-magnet city, with residents claiming the service is turning once-quiet residential streets into bachelorette party zoos. The city is currently working on regulations that would seem to attempt to form a compromise between both the pro- and anti-Airbnb camps.

ridiculous Photoshop via April Siese

New Orleans gets jinx'd.
Robert Durst, the New York real estate heir who was the subject of everyone's favorite true crime series since "Serial," was indicted on gun charges in New Orleans not too long after the series ended. Most recently, his legal team asked to delay his New Orleans trial on a federal gun charge by one to two months.

Photo: Infrogmation of New Orleans

The Cradle Will St. Roch
It was supposed to be an actual grocery store, everyone said as the renovated St. Roch Market debuted as a fancy food court instead. This lead to vandalization of the space and lots of talk about gentrification in the neighborhood, and in New Orleans in general — talks that will likely continue into the next decade.