Bywater for bargains

Noted for its history, architectural diversity and affordable homes, Bywater is thriving.

Shotgun homes line the streets in Bywater.

CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPH

Bywater, like many of New Orleans’ riverside neighborhoods, was settled on land from plantations given to Louisiana settlers as land grants by the French and Spanish rulers. The neighborhood is aptly named: Two of its natural boundaries are the Mississippi River and the Industrial Canal. It also stretches along Press Street to North Villere Street.

Less than 30 blocks from Canal Street, Bywater was carved out of six Creole faubourgs (suburbs) — Daunois, Montegut, deClouet, Montreuil, Carraby and Lesseps — and these family names are still reflected in some of the street names throughout the neighborhood. In the development scheme of New Orleans, Bywater was developed in the late 19th century as Faubourg Marigny became full and residents were forced to begin settling farther downriver.

The early inhabitants of Bywater included Creoles; free people of color; and immigrants from Ireland, Germany and Italy. Many were creative types: glass artists, sculptors, painters, writers and musicians. But Bywater also was settled to provide supporting services to the cotton press industry because the largest cotton press in the world at that time, owned by the Levee Steam Cotton Press Co., was located on Press Street, now the dividing line between Bywater and its nearest neighbor, Faubourg Marigny.

Bywater contains a great wealth of 19th-century architecture. The late Victorian shotgun, available in singles, doubles and camelbacks, is very common here. However, there are also Creole cottages, classic town houses, Victorian center-hall and side-hall cottages and almost every other kind of architecture from just about every period in the development of the city.

Because of this richness of architecture and sturdy housing stock, Bywater has been experiencing a surge of renovations in recent years. Investors have found home prices more affordable here than in the neighboring French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny and have begun to turn the gracious old homes into dwellings suited to their lifestyles. Professions of residents today are much the same as earlier settlers as these modern artists and artisans rediscover this historic and traditional working-class neighborhood and move their homes and studios into the mix of architecture here.
A mainstay of the neighborhood is the $23 million New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. It draws students from the seven-parish area and sits on the boundary between Faubourg Marigny and Bywater. Bywater also has its own “country club” on Louisa Street. In such a hip, bohemian area, a typical country club might seem out of place, but this is not your typical country club. The Country Club boasts a bar and a gourmet restaurant — and a semi-private clothing-optional swimming and Jacuzzi area out back.

In addition, the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans’ Operation Comeback is active in Bywater and offers a packet of information containing a list of houses for sale and contact information for satisfied residents who will vouch of the livability of their neighborhood.

Bywater residents host an annual Mirliton Festival, and on the third Saturday of each month, the Bywater Art Market attracts throngs of visitors looking for original, affordable art. This is truly a welcoming-to-all neighborhood filled with housing bargains just waiting for the right owners.

 

Mills Row Condominiums

For a couple of years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, real estate agents touted Mills Row Condominiums as having survived both storms with absolutely no damage. In addition to being situated in a strong and sturdy concrete-and-steel building, the condos are nicely laid out and affordably priced.

Mills Row is located in the fashionable Warehouse District at 450 John Churchill Chase St. on the corner of Tchoupitoulas Street. It’s conveniently situated just steps from the Convention Center and a short walk from the Arts District, Harrah’s Casino and the French Quarter.

The 31 units offer one- and two-bedroom residences from 655 square feet to 2,200 square feet priced from $195,500 to $395,500. Condo fees are 30 cents per square foot. Erin Stopak of Talbot Realty Group, the marketing agent, says there are presently only five condos available, ranging from $327,500 to $385,900, and a one-year condo fee is being paid by the developer.

Amenities include deeded parking in the building, controlled building access, private balconies, high ceilings, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, tile backsplashes, porcelain tile, wood flooring, maple cabinetry and trash chutes on each floor.

Restaurants abound in this neighborhood, as do art galleries. Cochon, Mulate’s, Emeril’s, Rio Mar, the Sun Ray Grill and the Red Eye Grill are all within walking distance. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the National World War II Museum, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, the Contemporary Arts Center, Arthur Roger Gallery and Jonathan Ferrara Gallery are also in this Warehouse District neighborhood.

For more information on Mills Row, Stopak can be reached at 525-9763, extension 22, or 723-0237 or by e-mail at eostopak@yahoo.com. You also can go to millsrow.com.

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