The world of real estate has always had its challenges, but the faltering economy has made it even trickier to navigate. On the one hand, it’s a buyer’s market, with prices falling and more great options available than ever. On the other hand, it can be difficult to find financing, with banks and credit companies restricting lending and with interest rates shooting higher. New Orleans residents are fortunate, however, to have so many unique and accommodating options in and around the metro area. From luxury townhomes in the city to waterside cottages within easy commuting distance, the range of properties is remarkable. Development communities are offering terrific deals and financing. For people not ready or not looking to buy, rental communities and properties provide spacious and comfortable living. Here are some great options in and around our area.

New Orleans
For all the conveniences of a central New Orleans location, combined with unique lifestyle and amenities, have a look at The Esplanade at City Park. Located on the bank of Bayou St. John in Mid-City, directly across the street from the New Orleans Museum of Art and City Park, the Esplanade provides apartment homes in a fantastic New Orleans location. Residents enjoy beautiful views of open spaces, elegant architecture, waterways and tree-lined avenues. Streetcar and bus lines provide easy access to all parts of the city, including the French Quarter, downtown, Uptown and the Lakefront. This spring, music-loving Esplanade residents are strategically located to take advantage of the festival season; with views of the Fairgrounds, the apartments are walking distance to Jazz Fest. Studio apartments are available, as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment homes. Spacious floor plans include custom wall colors, walk-in closets, frisé-cut Berber carpet, beautiful light fixtures, cabinetry, baths, flooring and more.  In addition, the Esplanade provides remarkable amenities –– free utilities; free gated parking; movie room with surround sound; business center with computers, printer, fax and Internet; fitness center; Wii room; yoga / Pilates room; courtyard swimming pool; game room; 24-hour concierge; 24-hour professional maintenance; laundry facilities; and on-site grocery, salon, restaurant and bar.  As property manager Christina Pascal says, “The Esplanade is really a neighborhood in itself, with everything it has to offer its residents.” The spring Open House is on March 11, at 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.liveatesplanade.com or call (504) 822-3353.
For upscale townhomes in a private, centrally located community, take a look at the Residences at Park Avenue, a hidden gem of a community located in Harvey, just off of Manhattan Boulevard. Catering to New Orleans professionals, the Residences were patterned after the River Ranch community, with a combination of Louisiana plantation-style homes and French Quarter-style town houses. Features include private courtyards, high ceilings, custom cabinets and granite counters.  On average, the spacious three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath homes offer 2,500 square feet, and some of the larger homes can offer as much as 6,000 square feet. The Residences offer a full line of top-flight amenities as well, including secure gated entry, a private clubhouse and exercise room, heated pool and hot tub, beautiful cobblestoned sidewalks, and reasonable owner fees that include lawn care.  In addition, each home provides a unique custom finish to suit the owner while still fitting the style of the neighborhood. A commercial section of the community, just outside the front gates, provides additional conveniences, including Salons of Manhattan, and a full physicians’ center. This spring, check out the promotional pricing that’s available for the final remaining homes in the Residences at Park Avenue. For more information, call (504) 382-5620.

Northshore
For home-buyers looking to combine the lifestyle and amenities of neighborhood living with the natural beauty of a rural landscape, The Sanctuary in Mandeville offers a unique merger of the two. Built on 1,170 acres of stately pines, magnolias, oaks and nearly 700 acres of cypress marshes and native wetlands, the residential home sites are carefully designed and built to coexist with the natural surroundings. Located less than two miles from the Causeway bridge, the neighborhood also provides easy access to New Orleans and Northshore offerings. Home sites are large and provide great privacy, built on streets that meander peacefully through the wooded landscape. The beautifully planned community is a safe haven for families and professionals, and includes amenities such as a gated entrance with private streets, all underground utilities including fiber optic telephone, and City of Mandeville water and sewer service. The Health and Activity Center provides a tournament-sized pool, three lighted tennis courts and fitness facilities with personalized training available. There are miles of walking and jogging trails, soccer and playing fields, as well as boardwalks and nature trails running through hundreds of acres of undisturbed forests and wetlands. Nearby office space is available for lease as well, allowing residents the option to “work, live and play” in this woodland retreat. 
This spring, home-buyers should check out the Lakeside Village Townhomes, as well – French Quarter-styled homes that adjoin the residential neighborhood and start in the $300K price range. For more information, including zero-percent financing offers, visit www.crosbydevelopment.com.

Plaquemines

Looking for a peaceful getaway location? The Coastal Cottages in Myrtle Grove are just 30 minutes from downtown New Orleans, but offer a lifestyle that’s a world away.  The community provides upscale single family houses and townhomes, located right on the water’s edge in the Sportsman’s Paradise of Plaquemines Parish.  Residents can dock boats right behind their houses, and the waterways are teaming with crabs, speckled trout and other delights. The Caribbean-styled homes are raised, with Hardie Board siding, metal roofs, wood floors, shutters and optional elevators. Ideal for both weekend getaways and full-time residences, this newly planned community provides both the peace and tranquility of waterside living and the proximity to all the jobs, entertainment and services offered by nearby New Orleans. For more information, including pricing, floor plans and availability, call (504) 382-5620.
Breaking new ground, the award-winning New Orleans developer David L. Waltemath is creating the first Master-Planned community in Plaquemines Parish, The Parks of Plaquemines. Built amid the natural beauty and outdoor adventure of southeast Louisiana, yet only nine miles from downtown New Orleans, the exciting new community offers the best of both worlds. The strategic location is within easy commuting distance to jobs, entertainment and shopping in the city, yet still provides all the best of Plaquemines Parish, including a great quality of life, excellent schools, good roads and city services. Superior levee protection keeps residents safe, crime rates are some of the lowest in the state and Plaquemines offers extremely low taxes. Amenities at the Parks of Plaquemines include a beautiful landscaped entry, a gated entrance, neighborhood parks, toddler-age play park, nature and walking trails, swimming pool and cabana and tennis courts. 
A total of 750 homes are planned for The Parks, and the neighborhood build-out is projected over a 10-year period. Phase I lots range in price from $69,900 to more than $150,000. Early lot purchasers are invited to become members of The Trail Blazers Club, which offers special benefits, including substantial pricing incentives. Pre-development sales have exceeded expectations, and indications are that 50 percent of first-phase lots will be sold prior to groundbreaking. Initial home prices are expected to range from $300,000 to more than $1 million.  For more information, visit www.theparkslifestyle.com or call (504) 364-2350.

Baton Rouge
If you can imagine gliding through the gates of your community and rolling past parks and beautifully landscaped green spaces to arrive at your home overlooking the fairways of the Baton Rouge Country Club, you’ll want to check out the real estate opportunities at the Country Club Place, in the heart of the capital city. Located just off Jefferson Highway, Country Club Place is conveniently located near high-end shopping, restaurants, services and entertainment, while at the same time maintaining a peaceful, world-apart lifestyle. With up to 5,500 square feet of living space, the three-story townhomes each are built with unique architectural personalities and come fully equipped with gourmet kitchens, natural stone and wood flooring, wood-burning fireplaces, courtyards and terraces, private elevators and garages and much more. Each unit is built around interior parks, gardens and stone pathways, creating a beautiful effect wherein the indoors and outdoors blend seamlessly from one to the other. Further, Country Club Place strives to provide the most luxurious and maintenance-free lifestyle possible by providing landscape services and grounds maintenance, and a concierge service that responds to almost any requests from homeowners. Residents can walk out their doors for the day, or for the month, secure in the knowledge that their property is safe and well-maintained. As they say, it’s not just a place to live, it’s a way to live. For more information, visit www.thecountryclubplace.com.

Design Services
Looking for the right team to help you get the home you want? The professionals at New Design Studios, located in downtown New Orleans, provide a combined 30 years of experience in the residential design-and-build process. Their “Lifestyle Builders” approach creates a unique and personalized design for each client, matching their needs, budget and lifestyle with a personally tailored space.
New Design Studios employs an advanced digital 3-D approach to finish your project efficiently and interactively. This process is faster, more true-to-life and more legible to the client than traditional CAD drawing. Walls and windows can be moved or changed in real-time during meetings, and you can go on a virtual walkthrough of your home at any time during the design process. The comprehensive New Design Studios approach takes the client’s budget into account from the beginning, so the end result is not only beautifully drawn, but can be realistically achieved.
New Design Studios is comfortable and experienced with projects of all sizes and scopes. Their team can assist you at all stages of your project, including exterior landscaping, fine interior design and building management.
For more information, visit www.newdesignstudios.com or call (504) 236-0076. •