Old Metairie

A Little Community of Its Own
CHERYL GERBER PHOTOGRAPHS
Metairie Country Club

The prestigious little community of Old Metairie, part of the vast suburban expanse of Metairie, is the first real suburb of New Orleans, a small part of Jefferson Parish’s Metairie.

Today’s boundaries of what we call Old Metairie are generally said to be Airline Highway, Causeway Boulevard, Veterans Boulevard and the 17th Street Canal. Its commercial district, Metairie Road, filled with small shops, coffee houses and a specialty grocery, bisects the area, yet most of Old Metairie is primarily residential.
And what gorgeous residences there are! English Tudor, Mission Revival, Colonial Revival and Greek Revival are just some of the styles constructed in the years before World War II when a streetcar line ran along Metairie Road and encouraged development. For a breathtaking view of most of its architectural styles, take a drive down beautiful oak-lined Northline, which forms the approach to Metairie Country Club.

Old Metairie’s newest development is DeLimon Place, 801 Metairie Road, developed by Crosby Development Corp. from the old Do Drive In movie. Completed in 1994, the subdivision offers town homes as well as condominiums for resale and rental. In addition to Metairie Country Club, Old Metairie is home to the New Orleans Country Club as well as two Roman Catholic parishes, St. Francis Xavier and St. Catherine of Siena.

Metairie was a rural farming community throughout the 19th century. Bayou Road, which led into the city, was joined by the dreary little gravel road named City Park Avenue (it wasn’t even paved until the 1920s), and it was only after the Civil War that this extension of Bayou Road’s name was changed to Metairie Road. During the Civil War, a portion of Metairie that was used as a racetrack was even converted into an army training camp for a short time. This is now the site of Metairie Cemetery, the burial ground of many prestigious New Orleanians.

When the natural swamps between Metairie Ridge and Lake Pontchartrain were drained in the 1940s, Metairie’s population grew as a result of cheaper land, lower taxes and larger lots than in Orleans Parish.

In more recent history, there were fewer deaths and less damage in Old Metairie during Hurricane Katrina, largely because the Metairie side of the 17th Street
Canal did not breach.

Today, everyone is eager to find the perfect location, location, location in this posh and family-friendly neighborhood.

Algiers Crossing: Blaine Kern’s Vision for Algiers Point

Most New Orleanians who have heard of Blaine Kern know him as Mr. Mardi Gras, a flamboyant float-builder in his 80s whose imagination runs to bigger-than-life-size papier-mâché King Kongs and fiber-optic Bacchus figures dripping with grapes.

But Kern’s vision has now turned from fantasy figures to real estate development, and he is busily putting together a new development on the site of the old Mardi Gras World in Algiers called Algiers Crossing. Fourteen acres of contiguous waterfront property offer a master-planned layout with incredible views of New Orleans’ French Quarter and downtown area from across the Mississippi River. One- and two-bedroom residences are priced from $325,000 to $575,000. The 1,500-plus residences are expected to be built in four phases ––  with the first phase of 324 residences now more than 50 percent pre-sold.

What vision does Kern have that prompts him to roll out a development in New Orleans’ soft post-Katrina market? The creation of the Go Zone Act (formally known as the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act). Through the act, owners of investment properties such as this one in the Gulf Coast are entitled to 50 percent bonus depreciation in the first year. Plus, investors buying a unit for rental income enjoy significant tax incentives.

Not only that, but just a mile from Algiers Crossing, Federal City, also known as Pentagon South, is being developed to house a high-tech security campus of offices for the U.S. Marines, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Department of  Homeland Security and other nonfederal tenants. With more than 10,000 employees expected within a few years of its opening, demand for housing will surely increase in this area.

To free up the Mardi Gras World land for his Algiers Crossing development, Kern leased nearly 300,000 square feet across the Mississippi River at the Robin Street Wharf and the now-vacant former River City Casino building to triple the footprint of Mardi Gras World. He’s not about to give up on Algiers, however.
“I am a proud seventh-generation Algerine, and I want to make Algiers a destination to visit and to live,” Kern says. “I want to do things here that will help New Orleans and that will become part of a bigger, better New Orleans. In the end, I want to be known as a philanthropist, not just a float-builder.”

Kern’s new development, Algiers Crossing, should ensure that just that happens.

How to Get a Mortgage You Can Afford

The days of getting a home loan without proof of a paycheck or indication of your financial health appear to be gone. But the process is still confusing. If you are shopping for a loan or planning to soon, here are some tips:

Get pre-qualified. Have a lender pull your credit report and determine how much money you qualify to borrow. Do this before you start looking at homes. You don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s worth $150,000 when you can only afford $90,000.

Compare appraisals. Compare your potential home’s appraisal with others ones in the neighborhood. If it seems too high or too low, ask questions.

Find out whether property tax and insurance are included in the escrow. If not, you’ll have a lower monthly payment, but you’ll need to budget for those payments yourself. They don’t go away.

Smaller monthly note. If the broker suggests spreading your mortgage payments over 40 years for a smaller monthly payment, ask how much more interest you’ll have paid before you agree. Make sure you’re comfortable with that.
 
Broker fees. Find out what broker fees are typical in your market, and make sure you’re not being charged more.
 
Be wary of delayed closings. Your agreed-upon rate could expire if your original closing date isn’t met.
 
Never sign blank documents.
 
Good-faith estimate. Make sure you have a good-faith estimate that outlines fees and payments before the closing date.
 
Read the fine print. Watch out for terms that could make it harder to refinance, such as prepayment penalties.

Before you sign on the dotted lines. Have a lawyer or a financial counselor you trust look over your loan documents before closing. Lenders are required to give you a good-faith estimate before you close. Read over the fees and charges closely. Make sure that all the terms and conditions you agreed to are reflected in those numbers.

 For example, if the seller agreed to no closing costs, make sure the costs are in the seller’s column and not rolled into your mortgage. If the lender promised not to charge you for the appraisal, make sure it was not added to your costs. If you were promised a gift card, make sure it’s presented at closing. Once you’ve signed the papers, it’s virtually impossible to change anything.
 
Don’t be afraid to walk away from the closing table. Lenders have a right to change the fees up until closing. If the amount is significantly different from the amount listed in the good-faith estimate, ask why.
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Lenders are changing their criteria for loans daily. For instance, some lenders have eliminated seller-paid down-payment assistance. Others are changing credit score requirements and the down payment required. It’s better to ask plenty of questions along the way than be surprised at the closing table.

Categories: LL_Home, Real Estate