If you haven’t been in the vicinity of the area now called the South Market District for a while, you’ll be stunned. You might think you’ve been beamed to another city – a very stylish city that offers swank business district living.
For proof that New Orleans will survive, and get stronger, visit the area (for which we offer a guide in this issue) as well as the other ongoing projects in the nearby Warehouse District. South Market can probably best be pinpointed by the site of the former Sewell Cadillac building on one side and the nearby main post office on the opposite side of Poydras Street. Only the post office has shown a decline in recent years. More encouraging is the Sewell building, which now houses a high-end Rouses supermarket, When big-time grocery stores open in a neighborhood once known for its empty buildings and a desert of parking lots, that’s a good sign. People are coming to live in the neighborhood and with that comes more services and street life both day and night.
In the case of South Market there’s also creative thought. In our March issue we offered our annual review of best new architecture. Parking lots never make the list, but this time author John P. Klingman, an architect himself, praised a building in the district appropriately named The Park. Sure it contained parking spaces, but Klingman was impressed by “the large scale frame that rises the full height of the building” and “the varying pattern of horizontal precast beams that form the structure’s bright-white façade.” Now we know even a parking lot can be innovative. We suspect there’s plenty more innovation to come from this neighborhood, and that will spill over into the surrounding areas.
Within walking distance of South Market are the Superdome and the Arena (where we’re reminded that Mercedes-Benz and Smoothie King do indeed mix well together), as well as a burgeoning sports entertainment district.
Victories in this neighborhood are coming in many forms.