WWL>Topics>>10-16-13 2:10pm Angela: on downtown development

10-16-13 2:10pm Angela: on downtown development

Oct 16, 2013|

Angela spotlights downtown New Orleans progress in her "From The Front Porch" segment with Ann Woodruff of the Lafayette Square Neighborhood Association and Kurt Weigle, president/CEO of the Downtown Development District.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Thank you for joining us. As we say we York community made up of the neighborhoods. Last week we talked with the leaders in lake -- see what's happening there since Katrina. And we were blown away with its progress on so many fronts and of course frustrated with the areas still in need like world class potholes. Today we're going to go to another neighborhood. One that I say didn't exist thirty years ago as we know now I'm talking about the downtown development district. That today is a vibrant neighborhood of residents restaurants art galleries theaters and businesses. But there are challenges they're too and that's what we're gonna discuss today. Joining us is Kurt Michael president and CEO of the downtown development district and and Woodruff with a Lafayette square neighborhood association. Analysts say from the front. 191986. I lived at the corner of magazine Julia. Magazine -- there were two other apartments and condos and they were apartments. There was a law firm across the street the Children's Museum -- was not finished. And literally it was the intersection where the -- knows. Congregated and we all called ourselves pioneers. So if we fast forward to where we are today. It is unbelievable. What has happened in that area so when I say I watched neighborhood grow I literally did I was lucky enough to. We're gonna talk about all of that and I wanna talk to and first because. First ultimately about the Lafayette neighborhood. And you've been near you said almost eight years to the week. Yes I I realize sticking for the show that I. I moved in to Julia streets eight years ago. This week because is about six weeks after Katrina. I lost there at -- my house at town and my. And fiance I was living here so we just moved downtown we had electricity pretty much immediately after the storm. I was working in the French Quarter so my. To serve fell right into and it's just walked to work every day had a roof over my head and I'm -- -- city neighborhood really. Grow amazingly in the last eight years I didn't resident spent eight years it's that you know I think that the magical word is neighborhood movie doesn't just downtown anymore it is -- neighborhood right. I'm actually part of the Lafayette square neighborhood and -- its historic district as well a lot of you'll confuse us with the warehouse district. But we mostly have 18301950s. Who later and road buildings we don't have them anywhere houses and -- guess I should just say now generally are boundaries are from the expressway. To magazines straight to. Play dress for the neighborhood and then to Loyola so if you think of Lafayette square where we have concerts now that's that's in our neighborhood can -- call that's part of our neighborhood and that's one of the neighborhoods. In the central business district. And I just find it's it's a different kind of living -- them and -- and not for everybody back for those who it's it's still alive. -- if you're sometimes at 11 o'clock at night we were in your neighborhood and I marketed -- all these people. And which is nice and young people it's business people. Yeah. And it's just grown so much I think in the last two years to me and really an analyst in difference and in the last years I was trying to think of -- -- Rouse is open. You know is that is that in two years with the last two years. And -- -- dishonest flowering of people businesses shops cafes yoga studios development departments and stuff that. I wouldn't believe I would've seen a few years ago and it's it's just developing very rapidly right now it's it's become a great place to live and work. But what we see I know it's been years in the making probably -- is in the last years we've really -- policy on fire it it really turning it over. How long have you been with downtown development. Little for ten years now it is ten years -- my gosh there. Good ten years to be the success and please correct because -- frequently wrong. But to me was the ultimate called tax credits or whatever to get guys to command men and women to command who would. Take these buildings and make them apartments and ultimately they became condos. And then it was the tax that was to and where the community. Taxed the people who live in there to give you funds to make the place better. Yeah absolutely I give the stakeholders downtown a lot of credit really all the credit for what's happened downtown New Orleans because. All the way back in 1974. The downtown development district was created. And the DVD is actually the oldest organization of its kind in the United States something we -- take some pride and long before there were things like at Times Square business improvement district two which is done such great work in Times Square New York. And now literally thousands of organizations just like -- across the country. The -- started its operations and and it was it was largely of foresight. -- to understand the folks actually had to pay more. In order provide enhanced services and -- public safety enhanced cleaning. Enhance economic development services. In order to create the kind of environment that that the folks downtown at that point mainly businesses is that the residential population was. Was much different and much smaller than -- today. There are over now 5000 residents. The downtown and -- district and you know there are holes cities that don't have 5000 people coverage for a I would imagine that over a 100000 people work in the downtown area. And for many of them when they go home wherever that is. They don't realize that it's just starting to live again. For the people who are coming home to their places in the downtown development here so you have all the people scooting around you people going to grocery story of people. God -- you like you don't know ha ha ha not something. Never leave a few. Worked here and then you're here all along you don't have to commute an hour each way. In -- that -- here we see that a lot more a lot of folks who don't want their commute anymore. -- don't even wanna commute from from Metairie who let alone though nor short someplace like that. And we see that you know for a long time downtowns have been to places that have attracted to young people twenty somethings. Then -- in the last for years we've seen of big influx of and investors folks whose kids went away to college. They don't want to maintain the big house and cut the grass and all that anymore. And and they -- take advantage of all that those wonderful assets of downtown truly. And that in downtown north as one of the plays we can say this world class restaurants within walking distance of the art galleries the the theater. All that special with the opening of the singer theaters just a few nights ago and now. It's it's this is the kind of place that offers the amenities that that you just don't have living in a place that is not a downtown. We are talking downtown development district were talking neighborhood stay with this will be right back this is Angela under the W well. We're talking about neighborhoods and specifically today the downtown development district which is same neighborhood made up of neighborhoods. -- We like to -- nowadays. Anonymous is based on feedback we've received from downtown residents and from part of our economic development strategy. But we -- downtown as a collection of neighborhoods. Because when you think about Lafayette square like -- was describing its -- typically town homes lower skill development the warehouse district is just that. It's warehouse is converted to housing in many cases. But more and more hurt this dvd from pointers over two canal street. And canal street corner itself our neighborhoods themselves with more and more folks living the Hibernia tower was just finished a few months ago. And so that has a a distinct cured of character of its own and and we think that's important for us because kind of like a city offering different neighborhoods to different. People who are interest in different sorts of things. In downtown -- -- -- highrise building with a great view of the river. Or you can live and in and a nineteenth century town home and have a very different sense and -- a scale and in quality of life. If she is is parking an issue. You know it's it's less and less of an issue because people who live downtown. Don't have to use their cars much I'm so. Oftentimes folks who live downtown will park their car even a couple blocks away because it may -- just use it on the weekends or couple times a week. There are several folks in our office who both live and work for the dvd downtown. We walked to work and so parking in those circumstances become so much less of an issue. There're there are major projects. Like them air time building developed by Marcel was different stints. That's common crime to let. That had no dedicated parking they can make parking available off site. But it was absolutely not an issue and their release up because people after that urban lifestyle. Your decision I mean yes Katrina probably -- pardon but to stay and what was that. Why can't decide. On my. Frankly my husband it's two buildings around so that kind initially made the decision for me. And and we had a child a son is four. He he might be one of the first kids. Born and raised on -- around about a hundred years but. I do want it to others but it's it's turned actor really good neighborhood for us as a family -- -- -- saying bad. Different types of neighborhoods like the -- never had a warehouse district neighborhood. We're lucky where run Julia streets and between camp and in saint Charles and it's I must actually an app called Sesame Street sometimes it's like everybody knows everybody on our pockets. We're really close and then it's there's Louisiana products is the -- middle of the block. My my son can hang out there with them it's it's such shed its arms and old fashioned way to land where you know you're neighbors and people around during the day. It it's just been a wonderful place in my -- saying I felt yeah I felt totally safe. I guess -- a city person from New York City originally. An -- I wanna live another urban very dense urban area but it's worked out really well well you have a precious park. What's happened. Bringing the music in the ones that music is such a great thing for everyone you know have to live there. -- obviously you have thousands of people who don't but enjoyed that so they get a flavor of what's down there. You know and and now in the fall too so we've got music spring and fall. And -- Lafayette square -- Etzioni give them a lot of credit and it which is a different organization about the square association. The Lafayette square conservancy. Has -- with the assistance of the -- many others put major investment in that park. Replacing the pollard's doing new signing and so forth. To make it I think today really a world class park it's -- we we're still working at it we think he can still be even better but. It's such an extraordinary space it -- I know when I walk through that park the -- just mean just exits my feet somehow it's it's beautiful. You know outer violence in downtown and and love it because -- I walk that I love to walk. The frustration I have primarily is when the lights are out in the lights down by the river by the aquarium. At the intersection. On talking to you lucky confection car. But. It is one of the most heavily trafficked areas it's -- hey Harris casino. It's -- and it's a lot of people all the time baby strollers you love it because they're going to declare the walking along the river. And then those lights invariably will would be out and I just saying I hold my breath. To me there should be an instant priority as soon as that series of lights go out. Somebody's gonna get hurt and I don't know if they hotline -- or whatever but it needs to be. Well if there's one of the things that he does is it it keeps a list of all the -- of the up. Public infrastructure improvements that are in need of of repair -- a public -- elements that are in need of repair. Light the street lights that are out potholes -- that are missing. What have you and we transmit those and on a regular basis to the city. To the department public works is that they they can address them but you know I agree we all need to work. Harder to make sure that all the infrastructure stays in good place this is infect. The city's economic engine that's something we're really proud of you know we're the largest employment senator not just in New Orleans are not just in the region but in the entire state of Louisiana. And so I think we we. The downtown deserves that kind of investment moving forward. Actually you know I don't see a lot of potholes. Downtown are there. No I you know that the city in the regional planning commission in the state the feds using a lot of federal money have done an outstanding job of of fixing downtown streets Julia street is underway right now as we speak as a matter of fact. Tell me a little bit about downtown development and your Rangers. And the concept of the Rangers is white. -- -- -- the Rangers is to be eyes and ears for the place so they're not -- they don't carry weapons. But they do have official looking uniforms. And I can tell you that. The folks who were up to no good generally know that they are in a position of authority. They have instant radio contact to the NO PD when they needed. The DD -- development district also pays for. Enhance -- downtown so we have detail officers on the street at all times in addition to what the eighth district provides. To downtown and so the Rangers will reach out to them when they have issues. But when not -- -- handing out there handing out instructions to tourists make sure tourist area and on the right past. To where they're going. And there are also interacting with businesses and residents to understand if their small issues that are arising. That might become bigger and bigger issues if we don't address them soon. May I ask what do you receive. From that tax annually. We received over five million dollars from attacks on an annual an annual basis as that breaks down to having your Rangers doing extra police. Right very large portion of that is on cleaning programs. We spend well over a million dollars on cleaning and beautification every year. We've got folks on the street are clean team 24/7. Literally there's there's never a moment including holidays when they're not on the streets claiming. -- they pick -- litter they pressure what pressure washed the sidewalks. They remove graffiti from public facilities that from private facilities which we can't -- do without. CA being a place with a private property owner but they're doing all that stuff constantly. Well we're gonna check in with news -- we come back we're gonna talk about -- some fun things they just started yesterday downtown proud. Now let's go to John -- Downtown isn't just where people go to work. It's also where people live it is a neighborhood. And we are joined by Kurt Michael who's had the downtown development district in and Woodruff who was part of the Lafayette square neighborhood association. Let's talk neighborhood -- Sure. Happy to. What you know we've we've talked a lot about the success. So for on the show but we know that downtown is now without its blemishes yet. And at downtown product because it is an opportunity for us to address even more than we have up till now some of these issues. And what it is it's it's our our. Attempt to try to get everybody. As the name would suggest proud about it to have pride in their downtown and take to play their role. And make this an even better place than it is today. And so this is a public awareness campaign involves email involves our Rangers handing out flyers on the streets. But the most recent version is putting up the stickers the via parking meter boxes don't -- on the green ones that. That we all feed on a daily or weekly -- possibly -- that -- I was gonna mention him but sometimes that there. But do we put up stickers saying things like curb your dog don't ride your bike on the sidewalk walk it. Our report aggressive panhandling and watch your butt to the can meaning your cigarette but of course. Yes and these are all. Be respectful of where you live capsule and I think people I've also worked in the -- for forty years so I know people not very good about curbing their dogs and there. Now we have people who think -- have animals down here right but we got to pick it up yeah that and the panhandle. Yeah panhandling what do you do. You who'd you call about the campaign. You can call us that if the dvd. To report that. And and we'll send out our our Rangers and if necessary the police you can also. Depending on the severity of the situation folks need to use their judgment taken reported to the -- NO PD nonemergency number. Or if it's if it's really serious to 911 because in some cases there are really aggressive panhandlers and Andy -- to make that called 911. But but we're more than happy to take the calls at the dvd. Also folks can go to our website. Downtown Nolan dot com. And there's there's a page on our website that has links to organizations that accept donations to help the homeless -- I think a lot of folks. Think that when they're giving to somebody was panhandling downtown they think that they're helping somebody who's homeless. Oftentimes this is not the case sometimes it is but not always. There are better ways to give so that you know it will be in the hands of somebody who'll be helping somebody in a constructive positive way. To get their life back in order if if they've lost their job or whatever and and upon mr. And you can literally say to them you know I give to sell itself -- you know I wish you well right one -- -- most proud neighbors is our scooped. Who moved downtown win. And with Intel and I actually mr. it was it'll be two years this coming January. When I first moved back that wasn't an option for me because I literally came back concerted over but I learned to live downtown in Denver. And when I came back here -- such incredible. Changes downtown I thought well this is perfect for me as living downtown is not right for everybody. But he certainly fits my lifestyle and and and it's where I am and in my life and you know I've I've lived in a Condo in the golf course in Scioscia and at a very young age in this business was successful enough to have a very nice house. I'm in Jefferson Parish. So I can think back on some nice houses that I've had but I actually love. Living downtown and yes there's panhandling and nothing is is is perfect. But. There's so much good about it is that this city really has changed this has been one of the positive aspects of what happened following Katrina and people who wouldn't ordinarily have to live downtown now live downtown that's changing the entire. Character. Of downtown and then you have Rouse is downtown I walked to the grocery store I walk to work I walk home again that's not for everybody but. I I love it and I never I never thought I growing up here I never thought that New Orleans was a city that she would live in and love. Being downtown. It's like -- often called at the heart beat. It it is there is life there's a heartbeat. I liked to walked to the movie theater I like to walk to shop yes if you like to walk this is the place to do it and it I've never felt afraid. I have any third and this year no there was an incident that happened to me that that has not changed my opinion of living downtown I've just a little. I'm more careful when it comes to certain things late at night this was 4 o'clock in the morning -- silicon for for Tommy Tucker. And while it wasn't my fault I did put myself in the position for something to happen. And I've now I've taken that out of the equation so I still feel completely safe walking around and as we know so they can deputy almost anywhere. Okay we're gonna come right back we're gonna continue our talk. Downtown as a neighborhood right after this. We're talking about downtown as a neighborhood and and Woodruff with a Lafayette square. Neighborhood association brought the very good point that you have a little boy -- so children can live down there but there are some meets. Right and it totally changes your perspective when you have a little kid. And what I really started noticing is that there's no. Later on -- -- -- dedicated outdoor space for young children really along the river anyway between anywhere between an sensations square which is on. Racing alleges. All the way to Washington square near Britney so I have to walk and I've done and until very up and he is getting to that even if I push minister all our. I can maybe make it to Washington square to -- a thirty minutes mean that I feel like and some level. That's just not acceptable right now we we need to move beyond that we need to be thinking ahead. And and encouraging encouraging civil family children and your thinking in those terms. Yeah absolutely. And I know what they can end -- several years ago and was one of the first to bring to my attention. This need downtown listen because I think image into. I live downtown. With my daughter she's with media part of the time with remote part of the time. But when she's with me sometimes assists me. Pop when you gonna build that park downtown if he sees me is the downtown guys -- can happen and that's pretty humbling. But you know absolutely we've we think this is a key component of making this the the victory in the kind of lifestyle the quality of life. That we need to attract everybody to -- him not just the emptiness is not just the the twenty somethings. And so the dvd is going to be pulling together charette we've already had conversations with urban Land Institute the American history of architects. American society of landscape architects and others. About how we can find some creative spaces downtown to create new open and green space. And you know of course that will do that contract with the whole community with the city and all the other. Partner but schools and other than what you gonna do. Her so well right now our son is four and a half so we have embarked on that torturous process of applying to all that charter schools that are that are. Out there that are possible so. Should actually rash comments fill up my lush application as we're speaking now. And so we need to start on that and it's if there was any way. I if there's anyway and get it and great charter school -- and that would dispute over the top that would be compatible and that would be such a drop for people living here. If you could may again this an attachment zone where people here priorities and you could really even. Wouldn't have to necessarily leave this area you mean you would probably want to eventually it would just be real honest and real plus for the area. But but the goal ultimately is to have people -- -- here just like people and on the next generation that will live downtown and my kid -- Let -- talk about canal street because. Canal street it is an emotional subject to me because I think it's truly one of the grand streets in America and lucky enough to have been here when it had real -- And watched it sort of the demise and see the little moments that it's sort of coming back and efforts being made. But I guess I I'm like a lot of people I want that magic wand and get it fixed here let's get some real stores and there are some. Some. So better shopping and thank heaven the river rocks coming back and doing great things we talked about that I'm -- canal street. You know we I think it the duty we know that canal street from a retail perspective is how we will be measured -- Despite you know the great successes of for a walk and so forth. And so that we worked hard at it day in and day out we've had some successes. Yeah I tell people all the time when you look at how urban retail gets redevelop across the country there's this pretty much a formula. Always drugstores. Vocal keep boutiques and food and beverage lead. And that's what we've seen was just so Starbucks opened up a couple weeks ago the CVS and some of the local stores. We see new local restaurants opening up and -- blocks of canal street that I think five years ago. You never would have expected that they take that leap. But for us that the be -- and doll. Is women's fashion yes that's what -- the that's what -- the retail industry. And that if we if we are able to attract to one -- two top women's fashion retailers to canal street. I think that will change the game. It'll take us from you know. Minor improvements that we've been able to make. We've done the -- participated in 25 facade improvements on canal street with a private property owners. So there's been a lot of this ground work. I think now it's put -- on Furman a footing that we can take that -- Well I think one of the great success stories of this city is magazine street and -- again you can walk for umpteen models -- different. Eclectic shops wonderful women's fashions. It can be done. It can be done on canal street and I believe it I -- you can do it occurs and there are a lot of women who are cheering you on. Thing. It is great because it has public transportation. It's just that it's got everything -- we just need to. Now we're happy to do it in of course with partners and all of business alliance especially is that organizations grown over the last couple of years as a key partner and then -- it. We're all gonna keep working yet. OK stay with -- is we're going to be talking about and has a list of all the fun things you can do to downtown to entertain your family. Right after this this is Angela on WWL. Welcome back as we continue our talk about downtown as a neighborhood with Kurt Michael Allen and Woodruff. And as a mother and as a resident for eight years has figured out all the fun things that you can do downtown. I have I have a list of twelve fun things you can do downtown won't. China -- and for everyone but. The first thing is the Louisiana Children's Museum mice and basically grew up there really to ascertain that three months. We live about 33 blocks away and staff knew and they were sound nice. It's such a great place they've been. We. Forward reconstructing exit to new putting your exhibit sent. So the Children's Museum is just fabulous. And then other. Wonderful places are the aquarium which not served to claim fallen and it -- deja and I. -- -- -- Yes go ahead and that's I lived down their streams of people all the time and just fantastic and that's a really good place here the parents summertime when it's so hot outside to end. I'm saying they are building a splash. Park. During our summer yeah that's my understanding -- that that's going to be will be there. Multiple times and great. And there's insect Maryann on canal streets. And then there's some other things -- people who might not think about. Like the public library. And Tulane and Loyola that hasn't fabulous children's room and -- resource. Prince is they're having a Halloween party this weekend I think from one to three so we'll -- -- to have great kids parties and that's free lots of the stuff to -- The Ogden museum has family free family days there's one on November 2 then we'll be there Fran it's maybe bring your daughter soon. It's for data dad's. Let's see World War II museum has events switched my sense too young foreign in the dvd lost sponsor lots of events like a Christmas and we are home. For all these events are coming up at Christmas time so. Yeah of course people to check out all the stuff on our website in downtown no -- come. But I think it's important to point these things out and I think we think I'd thought about the Charles museum and while my thanks phenomenal place. It certainly are wearing and can't spend the day walk along the river. Right let me gotten over there all the free festivals and concerts that we have Lafayette square this weekend there's the crescent city blues. I -- and having our kids section. But it's there agents their music and it's like for barbecues that's good for -- -- we're -- it to aryan side effects of the barbecue meaning. Then there's the -- now soldier's point yes -- if I had to take a fairy you know playground -- partner take the there there were Canada and I told her that's her. So be -- teenager racing. And then you can watch -- a French -- -- the Air France. An air force -- our -- that your kid is industry currencies can take. Four different lines now I have fun is getting and the last thing on mention is seized Saturday farmers' markets in which is at one time magazine and Ventura yes and so we get there pretty much every Saturday popsicle and you're talking about kids things -- -- also talking about -- things. And there's just that the point is is that it doesn't shut down at 530. -- downtown is in wonderful neighborhood I can't thank you both enough for joining us. I want everybody to stay with this because the next hour we're going to be talking with Clancy Dubose and Jackie Clarkson. About the city budget lots to talk about their thank you so much for being with -- again -- now joined Don James in the newsroom.