‘Dirty Dozen’ list of blighted properties includes Plaza Tower, Lindy Boggs, Parc Fontaine Apartments
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The code enforcement director for the city of New Orleans released a list of blighted properties he calls the “Dirty Dozen” as the city plans to crack down on some owners.
The Plaza Tower secured a spot on the Dirty Dozen list, which Director of Code Enforcement Thomas Mulligan said shouldn’t come as a shock. The building has been vacant and dilapidated since Hurricane Katrina.
“[There are] people entering the building illegally. The possibility of fire is a cause for concern and there was one case in which a bicyclist was struck. Someone who was just minding his own business going down the street was struck by falling debris,” said Mulligan.
The city of New Orleans says it is working with the property’s current owners to advance the sale of Plaza Tower.
City Councilwoman Lesli Harris said Plaza Tower is in violation of the Minimum Property Maintenance Code.
“There is a lot of talk about re-development. Ultimately, it’s in the owner’s hands to figure out what the best means for redevelopment is and if it can’t be properly redeveloped, I know that demolition is not off the table,” said Harris.
During a hearing on Wednesday (Sept. 20), the city imposed a $180,000 fine on the building’s owner, Joe Jaeger.
“[That’s] to essentially recoup the cost that the taxpayer has spent supporting Plaza Tower. We had to close down some roads, and we lost parking meter revenue when we did so,” Mulligan said.
Another hearing is scheduled next month to decide if owner Jaeger should be fined up to $500 a day per violation.
Mulligan said they’ll be making a decision next week about the proper fine to ask for.
“We have to strike the right balance in code enforcement between incentivizing owners of blighted buildings to do the right thing through a heavy fine but not levying such a heavy fine that it disincentives the development of the building,” Mulligan said.
“The problem is, too, with high insurance rates, with additional assessments, there are properties that are falling into blight all the time, so it is an ongoing problem. As I discussed earlier today at city council, we are trying to set up a fund for emergency repairs so people can be saved from their homes falling into blight,” Harris said.
Mulligan said the city has demolished more buildings this year than ever. He said they’re on track to demolish about 30% more buildings and cut about 25% more overgrown lots than last year.
“The only way we’re going to get these properties back into commerce, get them fixed is working together,” Mulligan said.
Harris said her office is working closely with Mulligan on blighted properties throughout her district.
She’s hopeful to soon see progress on the Lindy Boggs building.
“That property has been secured by its owner. I understand that they are in the process of redeveloping it and seeking funding from HUD and other sources for re-development,” Harris said.
Mulligan said in some blight cases the owner of the property can’t be found, in other cases it’s too costly to make the repairs and maybe they aren’t responsible for the current condition, and there are situations where the owners just simply refuse to do anything.
Harris said the Bundy Road Complex in New Orleans East which includes 20 acres is an example of a property where the owner can’t be found; she said the city is now clearing it and has been working on the property for a few months.
“Dirty Dozen” (in no particular order)
- Plaza Tower (1001 HOWARD AVE)
- 1031 N CLAIBORNE AVE
- 3010 SANDRA DR
- Washington Gardens Apartments (2119 WASHINGTON AVE)
- Bundy Road Complex (5501 BUNDY RD + related addresses)
- 6700 PLAZA DR
- Lindy Boggs Hospital (301 N NORMAN C FRANCIS PKWY)
- Orwood Creek Apartments (10151 CURRAN BLVD)
- Lowe’s State Palace (1130 CANAL ST)
- Canal St Hotel (1630 CANAL ST)
- 2025 CANAL ST / 115 N PRIEUR ST
- Parc Fontaine Apartments (3101 RUE PARC FONTAINE)
Mulligan said there has been significant progress recently on some of the properties on the list.
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