ICYMI: Downtown businesses, occupancy booming


Meg Farris / Eyewitness News 6:43 p.m. CST January 27, 2015

NEW ORLEANS – Developers are seeing a trend in New Orleans that, until recently, was unheard of.

In past decades, people wanted suburban living, but now, downtown residential development is booming and soon yet another new development will break ground.

The first new major residential development downtown is changing the landscape. South Market District, built on several surface parking lots, is bringing people young and old, empty nesters and couples with children, from the suburbs to urban living. For some, it’s their home, for others, a second home getaway.

“We’re seeing across the board, rents are going up. Occupancy right now, based on the last statistics we’ve seen, are between 97 and 98 percent occupied for residential downtown. So people are voting with their pocketbooks and with their feet,” said Kurt Weigle, the President and CEO of the Downtown Development District.

The DDD credits the location of the two new hospitals, the VA and UMC, and digital media companies. “With the growing number of good, high-paying jobs downtown and the improving quality of life downtown, there’s going to be an increased demand for residential,” he explained. For quality of life, Weigle mentioned all the restaurants, galleries, and bars for day and night entertainment nearby.

The trickle out effect of development is still continuing. A few blocks away from South Market, on Poydras and Loyola, another surface parking lot will soon be history.

Tuesday afternoon, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved plans for a six-story, multi-use development for that parking lot, with retail, parking levels and the national Dave and Buster’s franchise – a restaurant and entertainment venue. There were no objections from the public, just clarification on traffic flow and security.

“That whole area is starting to come alive. South Market is essentially a brand new neighborhood by itself,” said Weigle.

The new six-story development is across from City Hall and is expected to be finished sometime next year.

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