Katrina reminded us that New Orleans is a city built in a bowl, and that when conditions are right, water will fill the bowl. Jiminy Crickets, the city’s drink is a Hurricane. For me, that means looking for a second home on the rim of the bowl. Fortunately, my natural inclination is to live off the ground. Unfortunately, New Orleans isn’t a city awash in high-rises.
Many of you may be thinking I’ve missed the point of being in New Orleans and that I need to focus on the classically historic structures that line the city. Nope. While my recent trip reintroduced me to a city I’d not visited in over a decade, some things are best experienced more from afar than continually up-close. The French Quarter retains its beer-sopped streets along with the skeevy tourist and local clientele of memory. And that kind of unpredictable raucousness has never been me. It’s OK to visit, as one would a foreign land, but stepping over blacked-out barflies 24/7 isn’t how I want to live.
So why would someone, not in need of Betty Ford on speed-dial, want a second home in New Orleans? Because there’s a lot to love outside the Hurricane-fueled street vomiting and literal “tit for tat” commerce.
New Orleans is one of the few cities that’s done a better job escaping the frenzy of modern stressful lives – and it doesn’t even have a beach. There’s a vibrant and tasty food scene regardless of whether you’re an aspiring cook or a plain old eater. New Orleans is also about art, architecture and of course, music.
Here’s a sample of some second shelters available safely off the ground.
There are several units available in this riverfront high-rise, but 8E is the highest one currently available and the least expensive! The home features two bedrooms and two full bathrooms covering 1,918 square feet. Built in 1991, this appears to be “the” high-rise in the city … despite those wonky arched French doors.
The unit is listed with Glennda Bach of Latter & Blum Realtors for $1,599 million. There may be some negotiation here. The home was listed and relisted in 2015 for $1.499 million before a price increase to $1.699 million in March 2016 followed by a drop to $1.599 million on June 1. All this seesawing tells me that no one would pay close to $1.499 last year and so that would be my starting point for negotiating.
The kitchens and baths are in fine shape having undergone a recent renovation with top end appliances, cabinets and the like. It’s a pity they didn’t open the kitchen to feel less like a galley prison. Just opening that end doorway to full width and height would have made a dramatic difference.
620 Decatur Street
Otherwise known as the Jackson Brewing Company, 620 Decatur Street is in the thick of the French Quarter catty corner from Jackson Square. I list this building with caveats: The back of the building faces the river, offering a quieter experience than facing Jackson Square. So you can be in the French Quarter while turning your back to it (I sound like a fusspot, but living is different than visiting).
Unit Q is 1,267 square feet with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The home is listed with Craig Mirambell of Mirambell Realty for $750,000. (Note: Don’t visit “mbellrealty.com” as it appears to be blacklisted for malware).
It’s a corner unit that has Jackson Square out the living room and kitchen windows but both bedrooms face the quieter side of the building. Since the conversion was done in 2012, you’re looking at the best in sound-proofing.
Especially nice is the patio off the back of the building with wonderful views of the Mississippi River and the changing barge and paddlewheel-filled scenery. There are other units available in the building but I like this one because of the compromise on view/noise and the size. If you wanted an all river frontage unit, there’s a one-bedroom listed for $50,000 and 355 square feet less. Size matters.
300 Lake Marina Drive, Penthouse 18G
Are the Mississippi River and the city of New Orleans not your thing? How about scooting eight miles away over to Lake Pontchartrain? At 18 stories, flood risk is minimal for 300 Lake Marina Drive built in 1981. This 2,906-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-full-and-one-half-bathroom property is listed by RE/MAX N.O. Properties for $1.2 million. Being on the market for 780 days (over two years), I would think there’s either a story or some serious negotiation potential here.
The big reason you’re here are the views of the lake and marina. Being a two-story unit, there are balconies all over. This one is off the living room while the second floor one seen here is for the upstairs master bedroom. Sweet, right?
The master bedroom has a secret … it floats above the dining room. A sliding wall of glass opens one wall into the living room and the double-height views beyond. The bed is perpendicular to the windows to face outwards in another direction. Being a corner, it can do that!
Yeah, these views from the living room. You may want to snazz-up the décor, but it’s got some pretty fab views, eh? (… and there is snazzing to be done with a wood paneled den itching to be torn out)
Instead of showing the kitchen (it’s really, really good, don’t worry), I thought this bathroom would give you an idea of how little heavy-lifting you’d need to do to feel at home here. Yes, that’s quite some bathtub but quirkily, all the units seem to have these large almost swimming pool-depth tubs. I don’t recall that being a thing in the 1980s but you’ll never think of “soaker tub” in the same way again.
New Orleans has much to offer many different types of people (check out Valerie Jarvie’s differing take here). Whether you want to be bang-on in the French Quarter like Valerie, adjacent to it or far away, there are housing options that will let you enjoy the city in whatever housing option works for you.
Remember: Do you have a secondshelters.com location you’d like to see featured? I travel quite a bit and enjoy poking around real estate. Realtors, have clients who’d like to document their second home journey? Shoot Jon an email. Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal)! firstname.lastname@example.org