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Boom And Blight In Mid-City

Karen Gadbois

The problem of blight in New Orleans has hardly disappeared with the uptick in the city’s housing market. And on one quiet block in Mid-City, a very hot piece of real estate and a blighted home are existing side by side.

Local contractor Pete Becnel sold his renovated D’Hemecourt Street house in 24 hours. Just next door sits a house abandoned since Katrina. The crudely fashioned escape hatch from the roof is still visible.

Becnel acquired his property at auction 6 months ago. What made this property different than the others sold at auction that day, is that the house had been relocated from the site of the hospital building project in Mid City.  Eighty-one houses in all were relocated under a Landrieu administration program. Many of them fell into disrepair and others were demolished. This house is the first to end up in the hands of a private developer, through the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority auction process.

Now, Becnel wonders about the status of the property next door. He contacted the city to find out what the status of the property was and if the city would be demolishing it.

"We got the runaround. We got sent to several different departments about finding out who actually is in control of this house," said Becnel.

Blight concerns aside, Becnel is hoping to purchase another property to renovate. The 24 hour listing to sale was evidence that there is a demand for these older homes. He just hopes that next time, it isn’t in such poor shape.