Growing demand for downtown living in New Orleans

By WWL

Condominium and apartment construction has been booming in New Orleans' Central Business District...testament to the fact that more and more people want to live in the area.

But, if New Orleans is to keep up with the growing demand for downtown living, it's going to have to deal with an increased density of residents.

That's something that the Downtown Development District is aware of and planning for.  

"When the DDD thinks about this issue, we really focus on two things -- not exclusively, but largely --on transportation and on parks and open space," says DDD Director, Kurt Weigle.

Weigle says New Orleans needs a balanced transportation system. 

"We need a transit system that people want to ride, that is attractive, and that attracts more ridership so people will not drive as much downtown."

"We're trying to create a better network for bikes, for pedestrians...making it a better place for people to get around on bikes, to get around on foot. Because if somebody never gets into their car to take a trip across downtown, but they take that trip on foot...that's much less congestion that we've got to deal with."

And, actually, Weigle says we've got a head start in that regard.

"Part of what attracts people to New Orleans, and downtown New Orleans in particular, is the fact that they don't have to have a car. I've heard this dozens and dozens of times...that people may have a car, but they keep it parked most of the time. The walkability of the city, the bikeability of the city are key components to attracting people."

Of course, attracting people is what leads to that increased density of residents.

"One of the ways that you deal with having  everybody living in close quarters is that you have high quality parks and open space. And, so this is why our focus is on creating small parks, large parks, everything in between and, really, a whole network of parks to give people an opportunity to get outside, to walk their dogs, to take their kids outside...that's an important part of the picture."

Overall, Weigle feels good about the area's growth and sees it as a definite positive.

"With a lot more people living downtown, our densities have increased substantially. And, we think that's a good thing. Because what that does is it creates higher demand for things like retail and restaurants and all the amenities that have helped to make downtown so successful in the first place."

And, he says the number of parking lots downtown shows there's still room for more growth.