Saturday, September 29, 2007

Reality Check

929 N. Villere St. (1)

This very blighted house was approved for demolition by the HDLC (Historic District Landmarks Commission) a couple months ago. It was torn down on Sept. 27th, 2007 after sitting vacant for more than 15 years.

According to the Tax Assessor's Database, it was last transferred at a tax sale.

Sale Type: TAX
Sale Price: $ 0
Sale Date: September 25, 2004

FEMA had officially stopped doing demolitions in New Orleans back around August 5th. After about a month of lag-time, the City has gotten it together and is back on the task of removing blighted/abandoned housing in New Orleans.

929 N. Villere was a very early example of our unique Creole Cottage. However without any plans for redevelopment this building was contributing to blight in Treme.

These are a few other blighted properties demolished in the past week:


Washington Avenue Warehouse

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Big Lie, Small World*

UPDATE: Monday, Sept. 24th. My debris pile was picked up by the City in the past few days. One less thing to get depressed about today. I really needed the help at this point. I also got my household trash out at home before Team-Veronica, made it around the hood today. I got up late due to my new, wacky schedule I am trying to get used to. My needs are not that much different than the adaptive issues we had back in Oct. 2005. So today was a lucky day, or I just have learned patience? From here on out, things will be much better. No more of this nonsense, I hope. Truly, A Brand New Day, or ok, year. Six months . . . six hours? This definitely contributes to my new perspective.

Didn't stepping outside this morning feel refreshing? It was like California weather, no humidity! Likewise, things have suddenly turned a refreshing corner in regards to my being able to make personal decisions about my life rather than my life feeling like an episode of Lucha Libre for the past two years. I am restacking and counting my bricks.

We have put the Treme lot on the market. The insurance issues are clear and there being not much money to actually rebuild as it all was dumped directly into the mortgage (one reason people can't actually rebuild as they had imagined) leaves us only one option, really.

As things go in this hellbound recovery, the debris from the final clean-up of the foundation is now caught in the gap between the Army Corps' leaving and the City's taking over the task of debris removal. My neighbors suddenly are 'in touch'.

I reported my debris pile last month when we took down the foundation, which was prior to the Army Corps' official pull-out. Now, I am in a battle to get my debris picked up. The Army Corps has bailed on us after only two years.

I as an American citizen, have to beg for large garbage pick up after a Gov't Failure/Natural Disaster in America. Iraq gets an upgrade to top priority. Maybe I need to blow up my debris pile with some TNT left-over from WWII to get it picked up?? Maybe I need to crash a plane into it?? I'd love to set it afire if I hadn't really great neighbors. . . I am fed up. As they are. . . . So, I am in the queue for City pick up, but my neighbors are getting impatient. For the first year, I was so worried the Army Corps would come and clear the land without permission, now the problem has turned completely around. So there you have it ! Welcome to my existence in hell for the past two-years, in limbo with my insurance company, now in limbo for the new reality of cleanup. I am sure I am not alone in this respect. Schizo New Orleans life.

Here is Chris' email from across the street from me. It was a dud email address, so I could not respond directly to him. Chris is soon to be a father and will be relocating to a more suburban and family-friendly part of the city. I imagine he wants my lot clean before he puts his house on the market or just rents his place. He's not at all interested in raising his child in Treme.

"Laureen,I found your site through Metroblogging some time ago. Myself and several other neighbors have unsuccessfully tried to have the city pick up the trash heap that your workers left across the street from the remnants of you house. Could you have someone take care of it. I don't think that the Corps or anyone else is collecting debris from the neighborhoods. Thanks,Chris 1509 Gov"

I have contacted the QOL officer for the Treme and the 311 people who set me up in the first place. They have ALL assured me they are working on the list per the Sanitation Department on behalf of people like myself who were left in limbo. The reference No. is 201-6028. My correspondence with the agencies has been consistent and up to the minute. Stephen is getting his FEMA trailers removed as well. I happen to question the 'several' part of Chris' statement. We don't have several neighbors. At least not several who actually give a shit. We may have several if you count the guys who sit around drinking beer all day.

This is the first thing working its way out of my life at this time.

On the other end of brick restacking, I had recently thrown out a symbolic bouy to force myself to take the LSAT in an all out effort to return to my life in legal research. The perfect job here in the city seemed rather just out of grasp. So I decided it is what I really want to do and if I had to, I would go to law school to do it. I have invested many years of my life in learning and I have grown to love law libraries as a specialty.

In the simple act of throwing out this chance-riddled flare toward my own future, an opportunity of irresistable appeal was handed to me. Sometimes you only have to formally discard one thing in order to make karmic room for another thing of larger importance. I have been fortunate enough to have the option of going back to my professional field of legal research and am grateful as I can be for this critical change toward a more stable job that directly relates to my pre-K life. I have not yet recallibrated where my writing will fall into place, but I am sure it will. Frankly, I am bored to death with it right now. I am bored with observing this place. Emily has offered me one important thing about my perspectice vis-a-vis my work and writing since Katrina. A writer will write. No matter what.

Thanks to you all for your patience ~ I hope to get the debris pile is moved soon.

*Sting: Brand New Day

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Everything Counts

Lil Roger Running in Circles
My Nephew Running Circles

Because we are living at the rate of two years for every one year since Katrina in our new life of intense civic engagement in New Orleans, I am finding that blogging has been helpful. I found that I can go back to my previous posts over the last two years and see how much I have learned and what I/we have accomplished. Mostly I am shocked, because in my head, it's all a blur. I sometimes wonder if we are running in circles or making real progress. Beginning from this post Red Sticker , I learned how I know how to get solidly removed from these lists. Now, I can get a house in tax adjudication threat fixed and I have gotten houses in very precarious situations more time, so the owners can stablize them.

After working with Karen on Squandered Heritage, I am now a "List Master". Not only that, I can suggest a contractor who is an expert on these old homes and an engineer who can give you a report on-the-spot. I have successfully helped owners apply for grants for historic building repair.

Since my house was hand salvaged by Willie White, my fascination with his level of knowledge led me follow him all over this city to teach me how these houses are put together. He has taken the time to show me the learning curve about "architectural forensics". We have crawled under many of our city's oldest buildings in the last year and what I thought was new was actually old. He taught me how to evaluate a building from the bottom up.

It really gives me a shudder to look back on my post for the approach of Hurricane Katrinawhich is now just horrifyingly prescient. To compare this with that last one from when MY house was on these threatening demolition lists it's all very logical that I am now assisting my fellow residents in getting some peace of mind by negotiating the labyrinth of processes I had to overcome myself. I can read that Red List post and see how I felt so afraid and the feelings of despair I held about the whole nightmare. And now I can see what we can do !

Many thanks to Karen for creating Squandered Heritage a viable project, something truly useful that I can look at as a real, solid outcome of all this. This, on the 2nd Anniversary of this all-consuming recovery from a great disaster. We both now know, it will be many years of continued diligence before things are stable. It's been a wild ride but as I look back, it makes sense.

As we had said to one another back in October of 2005, when we were under curfew, clearing our own streets of debris, helping our neighbors gut their homes, helping our friends open their restaurants to feed our fellow residents and give them a place to meet and heal over a meal. Today, two years later, we are still hungry for any sort of information from the people who are in charge at various agencies. We are still helping people gut their homes. The saying still stands.

Everything Counts.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Salvage Online

As I begin to sell my own salvaged items from the house, I spoke to my salvager and we decided it would be smart to start a site to put architectural items online where people can browse at their leisure.

All the salvage warehouses are getting quite full with the high number of demolitions. I have begun with my own items from my salvage of my house. The hand salvage cost about 14K. This is not going to help me recoup those costs but could help find good homes for the items saved. I hope to add more content from various non-profit salvage programs in order to provide people a place to browse some of the best items online.

Hopping from salvage yard to salvage yard is very time consuming. With so much available, an online way to view them might be helpful in getting these specialty items back into commerce. My idea is that is be a clearinghouse for online architectural salvage. At least a cross-section of what is available.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Taking Inventory

Pod Inventory (9)

Last night there was another shoot out in Treme which left two dead. The City Council scandal this week, the assessor's nightmare which citizens are burden with and the general spaz de media which is about to happen because of K-2 is just making this place all the more torturous. This place is sucking the life out of everyone. It's not the heat, it's the stupidity.

Someone I know was at a family reunion last weekend and many people asked her how things were in New Orleans. She was a) aghast that they really had no clue and b) she said she could not answer that broad question.

We have resolved the insurance issue finally and now I am putting my lot on the market. I am working with Willie White to remove the foundation and flooring, which he will be able to keep thanks to his tight tarp job, a year and a half ago now.

I am taking inventory of the salvaged items in the pod so I can sell them.

Things here will improve but it will take years and years. . . I do not want to die waiting for that to happen.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


"It's a shame to be caught up in something that doesn't make you absolutely tremble with joy." - Julia Child

Rocheblave Exterior Profile West Side   P7179824

Rocheblave Interior Haunted Hallway 2   Renovation (3)

The Set

Other Things Worth a Look-See Today:

*A Very Honorable Mention from Daniel O'Neil

*David Schalliol's Isolated Buildings Series

*Please . . .

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Joe's Cozy Corner Original Facade Revealed

Joe's Cozy Corner 2005 (1)

This is Joe's Cozy Corner, where Kermit Ruffins used to hang out regularly, at the corner of N. Robertson and Ursulines in Treme. He mentions Joe's in his songs. The owner, Joe Glasper, was jailed after he shot someone outside his bar who refused to stop selling beer out of his trunk. The bar remained open while Joe was incarcerated.

In May of 2005, Joe Glasper died suddenly in jail a week before we were to close on the sale of the house which I purchased from the Glasper family. The bar has been shut since just before Katrina. There was a great Jazz Funeral for Joe. He had hosted a long history of bands in his bar and was a regular stop for all second lines. Some say had Joe not died in the jail, the family of the victim he shot would have killed him anyway.

PaPa Joe's Second Line

After Joe passed, a couple kind-hearted local women were renting the place and had been in the process of starting a food pantry/community center. They painted the bricks purple. The old shoe-shine stand which stood out front has been relocated by some full-time drinkers who hang out at St. Philip/ Clairborne Ave.

Then, in the past couple weeks, one of the people focused on renovations at the Corner of Ursulines and N. Robertson uncovered another old facade decorated with it's original advertisements. This is the second one of these in the immediate area.

N. Robertson at Ursulines in Treme (3)

Incidentally, I found another one at Marais and Independence in the New Marigny area.

Marais and Independence Gem Uncovered

More Photos