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Old 05-25-2011, 03:37 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX.. for now.
9 posts, read 7,140 times
Reputation: 21
Default Help: I need honest opinions regarding a real estate decision..

I'm going to type a small book here. My apologies in advance.

My partner and I are considering the purchase of a property Uptown, but it's in an area that some may consider risky.

The process won't be easy, and I fully anticipate lots of "are you friggin' crazy?!?" and perhaps a bit of "EVIL GENTRIFIERS! EEEVIL!" responses from you guys and gals here, and that's okay. I'm already hearing the "are you crazy?" part from my parents, but they're scaredy-cat suburbanites who think that everything associated with living in the city is "dangerous." So now I seek input from those who actually live in or near the area, even if the things you tell me aren't things I'd like to hear. Unhappy or not, I need to hear these things: I'm not going into such an endeavour with a Pollyanna attitude.

The property has been for sale for quite a while now. At least a year. It's on the corner of Washington and Chippewa. {cue the "Are you crazy?!" responses}

It's the property on the southwest corner of that intersection, consisting of four buildings (three houses, one storage shed). The main building is big and pink, and has fundamental foundation problems; it used to be a corner store. There have been several price drops. It started around $250,000 several years ago, and the price has slowly but steadily decreased over time. Here's the link to the Prudential listing site:Moderator cut: can only post realtor.com
The buildings are in various levels of condition, ranging from "knock it down" to "ehhh.. it's liveable - for the time being." Our long-term aspiration would be to knock most of them down and build a nice-but-modest house at that location.

Looking at the location, it's on very high ground (relatively speaking for our city), it's on one of the lovelier streets in terms of vegetation and trees, it's on a corner lot, and it's a short walk from Magazine and St Charles. And the lot size is pretty impressive, considering its location.. if the footprint of our house is modest in size, we'd end-up with a really spacious back yard.

After living elsewhere for 15 years, I'm moving back home to New Orleans *for good* - so I'm looking for a place that (a) we can afford and (b) that has decent long-term potential. If anything, we'd be buying the place for its location first and foremost. I've been watching this area for the past few years. It seems like, one by one, old run-down houses are being bought-up and improved by some pretty brave/enterprising people. Census statistics are strongly showing now that more educated or middle-class or upper-class folks are moving back into cities, and that New Orleans has been no exception.. I'm guessing that even more folks will want to live in town as gas prices continue their long-term climb. These are my main reasons for hoping that the area continues to improve.

A small bit about my partner and I.. we're not very stereotypical. We're pretty quiet people, but we make a point of befriending our neighbors, something that I think is a bit too rare in these times. Also: we've done something similar to this here in East Austin several years ago, moving into a rough-around-the-edges neighborhood and improving a property. We'd be very comfortable doing this again.

I look forward to any input that you all have to give. The plusses, the minuses, any hints or tips about the whole process, guesses about how you see this area doing in 10 or 20 years, etc. I know we're crazy, and that doing something like this would be a risk..

This has been a long post. Thanks for sticking around; I look forward to some responses, both good and bad. Cheers!
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Mid-City, New Orleans, LA
821 posts, read 818,493 times
Reputation: 938
The area between Magazine and the river has been undergoing gentrification for some time now. It started Uptown near Jefferson and has been slowly working it's way downtown toward Jackson. It's already quite nice from Jefferson Ave. down to Napolean Ave. From there down to Louisiana Ave. it's starting to hapen right now, but it's not quite there yet. The entire area is 5-10ft above sea level and has a great selection of older homes.

I think the Irish Channel is going to be a good area long term. It's already starting to gentrify on Constance and Laurel streets and its slowly oozing its way towards the river. That's a very dense streach of Magazine St. and it is definately a demand area now and will be in the future. I believe that the area around Clay Park will be as nice as the area around Wisner Park in 10-20 years. In case you're not familiar, Wisner Park is also between Magazine and the river, but further uptown on the other side of Napolean.

That being said, it's not the safest area right now. There have been quite a few indidents between Laurel St. and the river.

If you're going to place a 20yr bet, then I think your chips are in the right place.
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:05 AM
 
Location: New Orleans, LA
712 posts, read 1,400,558 times
Reputation: 602
It's probably a good idea to move somewhere and live there long enough to know the answers to questions like this before buying property, unless you have money to burn. I would say that no matter what community, or what part of town you were moving to.

But, perhaps you do have money to burn and you sound like you have already made up your mind, so have at it.
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Old 05-25-2011, 09:58 AM
 
Location: New Orleans, LA
131 posts, read 199,341 times
Reputation: 75
What's wrong with gentrification? The present owner can not maintain the home. I think it's a great idea to buy into a neighborhood that's edgy if you have the time to wait for the change. If I was in your shoes, I would purchase the property and become an advocate for the neighborhood. I am not in your shoes and I have to make insure my families safety now.


After looking at the stats in the area for the past 6 months, I would not say that this area is going through a gentrification process. The only I say this is because the price per square foot fo finished homes is creeping over $150 sq/ft and the market is showing less than 6 months of inventory.

This decision may not be as risky as you think.


Disclosure: This is not real estate advice, consult with your real estate agent.

Last edited by Abraham Walker; 05-25-2011 at 10:11 AM.. Reason: Went off subject.
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Old 05-25-2011, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX.. for now.
9 posts, read 7,140 times
Reputation: 21
Thanks for the input (and to the mods: apologies for posting the link).

You're right, NOLA2SGF.. my heart wants to do it. I'm just researching to see if it'll be possible.
And Abraham, you've nailed it as well - I'm going to be an advocate for no matter where I live. The area may start off a bit sketchy, but if time and events unfold like I think they will, we're going to see a slow and steady improvement in the area, and I'd like to be a part of that.

Although I currently work in and sleep in Austin, I spend at least three months out of each year in New Orleans, so I've been watching all of uptown pretty closely over the past few years. I'm home about every six weeks, spending as much time as I can on foot and on bike in the areas between Audubon Park and the Warehouse District. Eating everywhere I can, talking to people on the street, wandering into the small corner stores and shops.. overall, it seems to be going crazy with people moving in, improvements being made, etc.

I also posted asking for input over at the NOLA.com uptown forum. A few folks over there have suggested that a few historical and HOA groups might provide speed bumps to the process, especially if my plans involve knocking buildings down. I have googled and found no real HOA for the area - only the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association shows-up in my searches, and their website is pretty sparse as far as outlining any real sort of jurisdiction that they might have over the kind of decisions we'd like to make.

The next organizations to look at are the Preservation Resource Center and the Historic District Landmark Commission. Their websites are more extensive, so I have some reading ahead of me. I've found thus far that each building in the Irish Channel has been color-coded on HDLC maps to designate its architectural and historical significance, and that this color weighs on how flexible the commission is when it makes decisions regarding lot improvements. The bad thing is that the maps with these colors aren't online.. they're only available at the Public Library on Loyola Avenue.

(This may be another excuse to make yet another quick road trip out to visit. I only work three days per week at the hospital here, so my next four-day weekend might be spent coming back to visit that library. Hmm.)

One small thing in my favor.. we have an architect in the family who has practiced in the area since the 1970s, and he'd be able to help guide us through the code and construction processes. He's incredibly happy that we're returning home, and has repeatedly told me that he'll help in any way he can.

But Objective #1 probably has to be for me to stop being a coward and actually contact the agent for this property. He/she might know a bit more about all of my questions.

Again, thanks to all for the input. If you can think of any other factors I should consider, I'm all-ears. Cheers!
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