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(all data current as of 5/25/2017)
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I WANT A HOUSE IN UPTOWN
“I’m moving to New Orleans and I want to live ‘Uptown’.” Those are the words we as realtors hear most from folks who are relocating to our great city. And we hear them with good reason as “Uptown” is a beautiful neighborhood with rich history and fabulous properties. But the story only begins there.
For a bit of local culture, “Uptown” New Orleans is a neighborhood, but it also means movement against the flow the Mississippi River or “upriver”. If we give or receive directions, we don’t say “north, south, east or west;” we say “lakeside, riverside, downtown and uptown,” respectively.” But why is “Uptown” west? Starting at Baton Rouge, the Mississippi River changes its southerly course and runs in an easterly direction as it passes south of the French Quarter, making a large crescent as it passes—hence the Crescent City. Once the river leaves New Orleans toward its mouth, it twists again to the south as it makes its last 100 miles down to Gulf of Mexico.
In our local real estate market, “Uptown” residential property is the most highly sought after with the highest average square foot sales price in the city. Hence, “Uptown” is a trifecta, labeling a neighborhood in the city, a westward direction against the river and highly prized residential real estate. Trivia yes but important history and current real estate information, nonetheless.
All things in New Orleans began with the Vieux Carre. And as the population grew and immigrants flooded the region in the 1700’s, the land outside the French Quarter was acquired for agriculture. In 1719, the uptown region was part of the lands granted to Governor Bienville, who subdivided it into smaller agricultural plantations in 1723 for indigo, cotton and sugarcane. The area was sold, subdivided and sold again for agriculture until Louis Bouligny bought it in 1829 and had it mapped by Charles Zimple.
The growth continued with the construction of the New Orleans and Carrollton Railway (completed in 1835), which became the St. Charles Streetcar Line connecting the little uptown village of Carrollton all the way downtown to Canal St. The magnificent St. Charles Avenue, laid out atop the remains of an old natural levee was built with the streetcar mass transit running down its center. Both the streetcar and the Avenue helped fuel the development of Uptown in the 19th century and became the favored site for construction of mansions of the wealthy throughout the early years of the 20th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition on the present-day site of Audubon Park, that the areas away from St. Charles Avenue experienced a building boom.
Change is inevitable, and the definition of “Uptown” is expanding as new types of immigrants come to the city. Hurricane Katrina brought a new light on and a new curiosity about New Orleans and young entrepreneurs flocked in to help rebuild and add their own form of magic. Concurrently, the burgeoning medical corridor along Canal has brought health care professionals to the city as well. This new life has brought an economic and building boom as residential developers have captured this population influx. What was once a small seamed in area from Audubon Park to Napoleon and Magazine to St. Charles, (and the limited streets contiguous to Tulane and Loyola), real estate professionals are beginning to re-embrace the concept that anything uptown of Canal Street is truly “Uptown.”
So “Uptown” New Orleans—French plantations cum prime residential neighborhoods, is a study unto itself in the world of real estate. In the MLS, there are three uptown regions, Area 64 from Louisiana to Jefferson Ave. (simply called Uptown), Area 63 from Jefferson to Upperline (called Uptown/University due to its proximity to Tulane and Loyola) and Area 62 from Upperline to the western boundary of the city at Monticello (called Uptown/Carrollton as it crosses westward across Carrollton Ave). The strict adherence to this in the MLS is a bit blurred, as are the northern boundaries (the River always marks the southern boundaries). But one thing is for sure. As the population expands in New Orleans, so too does the definition of “Uptown” as developers are transforming blighted residential structures and run-down doubles into showplaces for homeowners who want the uptown distinction.
Outside of Mardi Gras, tourists don’t usually venture uptown. It is more of an insider ballgame, and the restaurants such as Clancy’s and Patois and bars such as Monkey Hill know and cater to their neighborhood patrons. Though antique hunting on Royal and Chartres Streets in the French Quarter attracts patrons from around the country, uptown on Magazine hosts wonderful antiquing opportunities and usually at more affordable prices. Uptown art galleries like Cole Pratt and Carol Robinson stand toe to toe with the best of Julia Street and clothing boutiques Mimi’s and Pied Nu are just a couple that rival anything on Wirth Avenue in West Palm Beach.
Health care was in a terrible mess after the storm. But New Orleans is fast becoming a premium health care destination in the south with the development of University Medical Center (an LSU an Tulane collaboration) and the Biomedical Corridor on Canal St. Uptown denizens have many excellent health care choices close at hand including Ochsner Hospital (upriver, but just beyond the parish line in Jefferson Parish), Touro Hospital, Ochsner’s Baptist and Children’s Hospital.
Public recreation could not be more inviting in Uptown. Audubon Park, an Eden running from the River to St. Charles Avenue, houses the famous Audubon Zoo and Golf Course, and is a playground for children and adults alike who enjoy the walking trail and lagoon waterfowl around the greens. And the Fly (originally the Butterfly), sits between the Zoo and the River and is a prime location for ball games, family picnics and river gazers. Audubon Park is right across the Street from Tulane and Loyola adding, simultaneously, elements of the intelligentsia and college nightspots.
Using a crude, but effective comparison, the average price for a residence in Area 64, for the first nine months of 2000 was $186,199. Fifteen years later, that same statistic for the same Area is $493,677, a 265% increase. In comparison, the United States average home price was $207,000 in 2000 and about $337,000 for the first six months of 2015, an increase of 165%. Those are amazing numbers. And with the increase in population, Uptown may well continue this trend.
The table below illustrates a five-year change in the sale of single-family homes in the three areas of Uptown: 2010 to 2015 (*9 months of 2015). These numbers hold much significant information, but the telling trend is the steady upward shift in the median sales price per square foot. And as this statistic rises and with the constant influx of professional and entrepreneurial individual families move to New Orleans, prices will continue to rise and the definition of “Uptown” will continue to broaden as properties are rehabbed and remodeled to fit the tastes of those moving in.
|YEAR||# Single Family Sold||Median Sales Price||Median Sales Price/Sq Ft|