BIZ NEW ORLEANS / OCTOBER 2020 / REAL ESTATE INFLUENCERS
Last Call for Neighborhood Bars? Poppy Tooker covers the struggle P. 20
Are You a Tenant in Bankruptcy? Local lawyers explain your rights P. 36
HGTV in the House: New Orleans Realtor stars in new show P. 60
RYAN E. BURKS P RESI DENT RYCARS
K ATIE W ITRY OW N E R W ITRY CO LLE CTIV E
12 TOP REAL ESTATE INFLUENCERS
C H R I S C OM B S OWN ER C M C OM B S C ON ST RU C T I ON
SPEAK OUT ON HOW COVID-19 IS AFFECTING THEIR INDUSTRIES
ANNUAL REAL ESTATE ISSUE
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
October VOLUME 07 ISSUE 01
FROM THE LENS
18 EDITOR’S NOTE 20 PUBLISHER’S NOTE
How has COVID-19 changed operations of senior living/care facilities? EDUCATION.. .................. 40
New Orleans Colleges and Universities rethink housing
Rêve Realtors’ Garden District headquarters is a midcentury-inspired masterpiece
IN THE BIZ DINING........................... 26
Local bars are poised to become casualties of the pandemic
What type of protections exist for any type of tenant going through bankruptcy?
WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?. . .....................................68
Among HGTV’s newest shows, “Selling the Big Easy” stars local luxury residential Realtor Brittany Picolo-Ramos ON THE JOB..........................................................................72
Attenhofer’s Stained Glass Studio has been bringing light to life through gorgeous creations showcased in residential, commercial and religious buildings throughout the region
TOURISM. . ...................... 28
New Orleans’ Civil War Tours wins international award SPORTS .. ....................... 30
Football season starts slow for sports retailers ENTREPRENEUR.......... 32
Are you a small business looking for help? StayLocal is an invaluable resource
GUEST. . ........................... 46
Thousands of New Orleanians are struggling to keep a roof over their heads during this pandemic. We can’t afford to wait any longer for action.
12 Top Real Estate Influencers Share their views on residential and commercial real estate, construction and architecture
ON THE COVER From Left to Right: Ryan E Burks, president of RYCARS; Katie Witry, owner of Witry Collective; and Chris Combs, owner, C M Combs Construction Portraits by Jeffery Johnston
Publisher Todd Matherne EDITORIAL Managing Editor Kimberley Singletary Art Director Sarah George Digital Media Editor Kelly Massicot Associate News Editor Rich Collins Contributors Ashley McLellan, Andreanecia M. Morris, Chris Price, Jennifer Gibson Schecter, Melanie Warner Spencer, Poppy Tooker, Keith Twitchell ADVERTISING Sales Manager Caitlin Sistrunk (504) 830-7252 Caitlin@BizNewOrleans.com Senior Account Executive Brennan Manale (504) 830-7298 Brennan@BizNewOrleans.com Senior Account Executive Jessica Jaycox (504) 830-7255 JessicaJ@BizNewOrleans.com RENAISSANCE PUBLISHING MARKETING Coordinator Abbie Dugruise PRODUCTION Manager Emily Andras Designer Rosa Balaguer CIRCULATION Subscriptions Jessica Armand Distribution John Holzer ADMINISTRATION Office Manager Mallary Wolfe Chief Executive Officer Todd Matherne For subscriptions, call (504) 830-7231
2016 Bronze: Best Feature Layout 2017 Bronze: Best Daily Email 2017 Silver: Best Recurring Feature 2018 Gold: Most Improved Publication 2018 Silver: Best Recurring Feature 2019 Gold: Best Recurring Feature 2019 Gold: Best Explanatory Journalism 2020 Silver: Best Recurring Feature
110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123 • Metairie, LA 70005 • (504) 828-1380 Biz New Orleans is published monthly by Renaissance Publishing, LLC, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005; (504) 828-1380. Subscription rate: one year $24.95, two year $39.95, three year $49.95—foreign rates vary call for pricing. Postage paid at Metairie, LA, and additional mailing entry offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Biz New Orleans, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005. Copyright 2020 Biz New Orleans. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the consent of the publisher. The trademark Biz New Orleans is registered. Biz New Orleans is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photos and artwork, even if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope. The opinions expressed in Biz New Orleans are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the magazine or owner.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
C’mon Fall! OCTOBER IS MY FAVORITE MONTH. Not only is it home to my favorite holiday, it’s the start of my favorite season. I mean, who doesn’t love fall? The weather starts to cool (hopefully), you have the holidays coming up, (which may look different this year, but we will do our best), it’s football season and kids are back in school — OK, sort of. Yes, this year looks a lot different than every other, but I’m determined to stay optimistic that someday soon I’ll be walking out of the house into cooler, crisper air clad in jeans and a cozy sweater. It’s funny how the simple things have become so big right now. For Biz, October means it’s time for our annual real estate issue, and there’s definitely plenty going on. National trends are very much on display here, whether that’s an increased demand for homes with pools or increased demand (and therefore costs) of construction materials. We’re excited to have 12 top industry professionals share their thoughts on all areas of local real estate. Other topics covered in this issue include senior living, student housing, tenant bankruptcy options and affordable housing. We also have a look at a local real estate firm’s stunning new Garden District headquarters and talk to the star of the new HGTV show starring New Orleans that just launched last month. Plus, our esteemed columnist and dining guru Poppy Tooker delves into the fight for survival being waged by neighborhood bars, and our award-winning sportswriter Chris Price speaks with retailers affected by the altered pro football setup. This month also marks Biz New Orleans’ sixth anniversary. Anniversaries are funny: On one hand, it feels like yesterday that Errol Laborde and I were trying to piece together the first issue. On another, it’s amazing to think of all the ways the magazine, and this city, have grown and changed. Thank you for sticking with us, and if you haven’t yet, I invite you to check out our new weekly podcast series, Biz Talks, on BizNewOrleans.com or wherever you get your podcasts. Finally, the idea for this annual real estate issue was the result of a partnership with NOMAR/ CID to coincide with their annual Economic & Real Estate Forecast Symposium, which this year will be a 2-day virtual experience available to anyone interested in hearing the latest on “The New Orleans Economy: Pivoting to the New Normal” from industry thought leaders, researchers and investors. The symposium will take place Oct. 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit NOMAR.org.
Don’t Miss These Recent Biz Talks Podcasts
OAK STREET SMALL BUSINESSES FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL SEPTEMBER 8 Min Yang, president of Oak Street Merchants, Residents and Property Owners Inc., discusses the effect the pandemic has had on Uptown’s historic commercial corridor.
HGTV COMES TO NOLA SEPTEMBER 1 New Orleans residential realtor and star of HGTV’s new show “Selling the Big Easy” shares how she made the surprising leap to the small screen and what she hopes the network’s millions of viewers will learn about the city.
Happy Halloween! And thanks for reading,
HOW COVID-19 MAY CHANGE RESTAURANTS FOREVER AUGUST 25 Kimberley Singletary, Managing Editor
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
Founder and CEO of the popular Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group, Jennifer Weishaupt discusses the changes the pandemic may bring and how she’s managed to keep her business moving forward.
Happy News THIS MONTH SOME EXCITING THINGS ARE
happening at Renaissance Publishing. In addition to Biz New Orleans celebrating another anniversary this month from its launch in October 2014, around the company we have some great news to share. Louisiana Life has started a weekly podcast where Executive Editor Errol Laborde takes a look inside Louisiana every Thursday with special guests from around the state. Check out Louisiana Insider online or wherever you listen to podcasts. myneworleans.com/louisiana-insider New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles is also celebrating this year’s Design Masters and Best of Home winners in its current autumn issue. We have launched a new sports blog with award-winning Biz New Orleans blogger Chris Price called the Pre-Snap Read. Check it out every Friday before Saints games to get an inside look at each week’s upcoming matchup this season. myneworleans.com/weekly-blogs/ presnap-read New Orleans Magazine is unveiling a complete redesign this month. Editor Ashley McLellan and Creative Director Tiffani Amedeo have added some new writers, columns and features to an already existing great lineup of nationally award-winning journalism. They have done an outstanding job so take a look at this impressive “new” New Orleans Magazine at myneworleans.com. Stay safe, continue to mask up and hope to see you soon. Todd Matherne
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
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(504) 830-7252 Caitlin@BizNewOrleans.com
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WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NEXT IN 24
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NOVEMBER SPECIAL PROFILE SECTION
Family-Owned Businesses PERSPECTIVES
Banking & Finance Insurance Maritime & Ports
Top 10 Business Stories of the Year SPECIAL PROFILE SECTION
Inside the Industry Industry Standouts PERSPECTIVES
Banking & Finance Education Real Estate & Construction
In The Biz BIZ COLUMNISTS SPEAK OUT
DINING Neighborhood bars are poised
to become casualties of the pandemic
TOURISM Civil War Tours wins
international travel award
SPORTS Football season starts slow
for sports retailers
ENTREPRENEUR StayLocal â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an invaluable resource for small businesses
IN THE BIZ DINING
Last Call for Neighborhood Bars? Local watering holes are poised to become casualties of the pandemic. BY POPPY TOOKER
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
such business owner is Kelder SummerJones. She and her husband, Ken, opened Whiskey and Sticks in the Bayou Road business corridor during the summer of 2018, calling it their “retirement plan.” “To comply with takeout regulations, we purchased a frozen drink machine, but by the time it arrived, the rules had changed again,” says Summer-Jones. After images of French Quarter crowds hit the national news, Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered all bars closed at midnight on July 12, without any indication of when they might reopen. In late August, during a call with city business leaders, Sarah Babcock, the director of healthy environments and communications for the New Orleans Health Department, explained that the city’s resources were prioritizing opening Orleans Parish schools. Once schools operated for four to six weeks with no virus resurgence, she said, re-opening bars would be considered. “There was total silence on the line,” saidWatts. “Everyone was stunned to learn the situation was hopeless until mid-October or early November at best.” Me anw hi le, t he p ar t y cont inues unabated on Bourbon Street with crowds sporting to-go drinks mixed with package liquor from nearby stores. Cure’s Neal Bodenheimer pointed out that for the first time, “Municipalities across the nation are giving their constituents the option of to-go drinks with takeout meals.” Across Louisiana, curbside alcohol sales continue, but in the city that invented the “go-cup,” bar owners are left empty-handed as another piece of New Orleans’ deep culture appears poised for extinction. n
Catch Poppy Tooker on her radio show, “Louisiana Eats!” Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. on WWNO 89.9 FM.
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
A native New Orleanian, Poppy Tooker has spent her life devoted to the cultural essence that food brings to Louisiana, a topic she explores weekly on her NPR-affiliated radio show, Louisiana Eats! From farmers markets to the homes and restaurants where our culinary traditions are revered and renewed, Poppy lends the voice of an insider to interested readers everywhere.
EVERY DAY SINCE THE COVID-19 SHUTDOWN,
retired New Orleans firefighter Kevin Lee makes his way to the corner of 6th and Chippewa streets where he sits alone inside his bar — Pete’s Out In The Cold. Walking by, neighbors wave at Lee’s cameras to say hi, or honk the horn when they pass. “I’m still the protector of the neighborhood,” he says proudly. Lee says Pete’s, an Irish Channel institution since 1931, is the last area holdout. “There used to be 10 bars right here and we’re the last.” New Orleans’ neighborhood bars are deeply woven into the cultural fabric of the city. “So many of our customers have met their spouses here, and now their grown children frequent my bar,” says Polly Watts, secondgeneration owner of the Avenue Pub. “It’s where people come to celebrate and mourn. They regard our bar as an extension of their own homes.” Many bars with food permits continued to operate throughout the pandemic, while those without have become what Danielle Boyce Batten, owner of the Little Bar On Gravier in the Central Business District, calls “the political scapegoat of Covid.” As a member of the city’s Reopening Advisory Panel, Batten co-chairs the Economics/Data working group. “The statistics are skewed,” Batten says. “The data does not discern between bars with or without food permits.” I visited a Mid-City bar with a food permit recently and saw Batten’s point. Inside the cool, dark space regulars were seated at tables instead of on barstools, sharing orders of French fries that allowed them to indulge in day drinking, a favorite New Orleans pastime. Enforcement of the provision requiring 51% of sales to be in food seemed unlikely to me. Bar owners say navigating the labyrinth of changing regulations has been exhausting, both financially and personally. Initially, many rushed to receive provisional food service permits. Then, on June 13, all bars were allowed to reopen with limited indoor capacity when further restrictions were lifted. Two weeks later, the rules changed again, restricting sales to curbside service of sealed containers. T. Cole Newton of St. Claude Avenue’s Domino reported, “By operating with a skeleton staff, we were able to turn a small profit that month.” Frozen, alcoholic beverages have long been an exception to the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Control laws, so many bars responded by investing in equipment. One
IN THE BI Z TOURISM
Civil War Tours Wins International Travel Award New Orleans was more than just captured during the American Civil War. BY JENNIFER GIBSON SCHECTER
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on BizNewOrleans.com.
IN THE MIDST OF MONTHS OF SHUTDOWN Mississippi. I tell people I washed down the due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one local river.” tourism company received welcome good Clark’s passion for telling the story of news. Civil War Tours of New Orleans, an New Orleans’ role during the American owner-operator tour company headquar- Civil War is clear. He offers walking tours tered in New Orleans, was awarded a 2020 of the French Quarter and driving tours of Travelers’ Choice designation for historical/ the Metairie Lake Lawn Cemetery. He also heritage tours by TripAdvisor. works throughout Louisiana to provide The award is based on a full year of special tours with American Cruise Lines TripAdvisor reviews and places Civil War and recently contracted to write a complete Tours of New Orleans in the top 10% of travel guide to Civil War sites in Louisiana. tourism and hospitality businesses world- According to Clark, there are more than 600 wide. Over the past five years, Civil War sites of battles and skirmishes in Louisiana Tours of New Orleans has received 130 total that took place from 1862 to 1865. His tours reviews, and 123 ranked the company as of New Orleans focus on the less obvious “Excellent.” aspects of the Civil War. “After six years of hard work, we have “A war is so much more than just a battlesucceeded in bringing to life the unique field. Even for soldiers, the actual battles were history that vibrant a small aspect of what it meant to be a soldier. Louisiana holds,” said Nic Clark, owner Consider the economic importance of New of the company. “Civil War Tours of New Orleans with banking, cargo on the river, Orleans looks forward to continuing our tariffs on imported goods, and big sources mission, educating the public and eagerly of revenue for the federal budget,” said Clark. anticipating the new paths we will take in “I’m not trying to sway people one way or the the coming future. One tour at a time, we other and I’m not trying to be a professor, create a sense of pride and curiosity to foster but a lot of my reviews say this is the tour to learning about Louisiana’s history during the take if you want to learn about history.” Civil War.” I asked Clark how the removal of Clark, who worked as a Louisiana State Confederate monuments and the growing Park ranger before starting his company in awareness of anti-racism in the country have 2014, has been interested in the American impacted the content of his tours. He said Civil War since he was a child visiting in because his tours focus on the years of the family in Chattanooga, Tenn. Growing up war, and not Reconstruction and the period in St. Louis, he wasn’t immersed in southern following, the monuments were never stops culture and the history of the war, so he on his tours. He stops at the corner of Royal sought it out through books and academia. and Chartres streets, the site of the former St. Of the more than 300 books in his personal Louis Hotel, to discuss the slave exchanges Civil War library, he still treasures his first in the city and how enslaved people were book on the subject, “The Golden Book of treated, and how they served in both the the Civil War.” Union and Confederate armies. When Clark was on a train in England Looking toward the future, Clark says at the age of 18, he asked himself what he he is working to develop self-guided tours would do if money were no object. Having using GPS technology so people can socially long dreamed of New Orleans and the distance and still participate and creating Mississippi River that connects his child- content for tours throughout Louisiana’s hood home to his desired home, he decided historic Civil War sites. n to make every career decision from that point forward focused on attaining his dream of running his own tour company in New Orleans. Clark lived and worked in Shreveport, Natchitoches and Lafayette before finally settling in New Orleans and starting his award-winning company. “I never gave up. From 2003 to 2014, every job I had, every place I worked and lived, was to get me here doing what I want to do,” said Clark. “My DNA has always attracted me to Louisiana history and culture. There’s a lot of cultural exchange happening between St. Louis and New Orleans, connected by the
IN THE BIZ SPORTS
In the Red, but Hoping for the Black (and Gold) Football season starts slow for sports retailers. BY CHRIS PRICE
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at BizNewOrleans.com.
“During the week I get no traffic,” FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, THE 2020 NEW Orleans Saints may have the most talented Schlesinger said. “On the weekend, we might roster in team history. Experts are high on get a few people. There’s no comparison to the the Saints and the diehards are yelling, “Black numbers we usually see at this time of year when the football season is kicking off.” and Gold to the Super Bowl.” While the Saints’ home opener against the But there’s a feeling in the air unlike Tampa Bay Buccaneers was played without previous football seasons. Blame it on COVID-19-related restrictions fans in attendance, state officials allowed — including the elimination of preseason the Superdome to open at 25% capacity for games and limited attendance at regular the second of eight home games against the season games, the current political envi- Green Bay Packers on Sept. 27. “It is imperative that our fans know that the ronment, or frustration with three straight seasons ending in devastating playoff losses, health and safety of all those attending our but excitement for the season has been games is the highest priority of not only the New Orleans Saints, but also state and local lagging according to local retailers. “We missed our numbers in August,” said officials,” the team said in a release last month Fleurty Girl owner Lauren Haydel, who about allowing fans into games. While it is encouraging that a limited launched the business in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl. “We can’t number of fans will be allowed inside the Superdome, it won’t have even close to the compete without football.” For more than a decade, Fleurty Girl’s economic impact of the stadium’s capacity six retail stores and online shop have been of 73,000 fans per game and the typical tens a haven for Saints fans to get outfitted with of thousands of tailgaters who would usually unique styles and accessories, but this year fill downtown shops, bars and restaurants on game days. has been different. For business to return to normal, “Saints football is at the core of Fleurty Girl,” she said. “This is the first fall, the first football Schlesinger said people need to “stop season, that we are not head to toe in Saints believing that the corona’s going to kill gear at Fleurty Girl. The customer demand everybody, and the mayor (needs to) open everything up.” isn’t there. It’s very unusual.” Against the backdrop of the presidential In previous years, Haydel would offer customers a number of new products and election and protests against police brutality shirt designs to capitalize on the excitement against African-Americans, including players of Saints football. She said fans would flock kneeling during the national anthem to draw to the store for face glitter, T-shirts, earrings, attention to the issue, some fans — led by President Donald Trump condemning the hair flair and see-through purses. “I’m not selling that. I mean, they don’t action as un-American and insulting to U.S. need that right now. Even our front table isn’t soldiers and veterans — have turned their black and gold right now,” Haydel said. “It’s back on the game, team and players they masks and mask chains and hand sanitizers. previously loved. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Usually we’ve got baskets of different clear purse styles, and they’re in the back corner Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality of the store right now.” With the current health environment, one and racism in 2016. His protest has been would think a Saints-themed mask might be adopted by players in leagues worldwide over the past four years, and interest in the movea hot item, but that’s not the case. ment has increased as police-related deaths “It’s not even in our top 10,” she said. This year, Fleurty Girl introduced only one have gripped the nation this year. The NFL — a league where approximately new shirt, which features people sitting on a 70% of players are Black — has now committed couch and it says, “Holla From Home.” “I just don’t see people decking out like they to address social justice issues alongside the would if they were tailgating or going inside the NFL Players’ Association. “End racism” and “It game. I don’t want to be sitting on lots of prod- takes all of us” will be painted in each stadium’s ucts. We have nothing like our normal spread.” end zones for the upcoming season. For now, retailers are hoping consumer With conventions canceled, bars closed and restaurants at limited capacity, the attitudes shift once the season begins. If the French Quarter is not attracting the crowds Saints play as advertised, the hope is that sales it normally does as temperatures cool and will pick up and continue through the holiday season and the playoffs. fans gear up for gameday. “I think when games start,” said Haydel, “It’s like a whole different world,” said Marguerite Schlesinger of N’awlins Sports “we’ll see a turnaround.” n on Decatur Street.
IN THE BIZ ENTREPRENEUR
Locals Supporting Locals Are you a small business looking for help? StayLocal is an invaluable resource. BY KEITH TWITCHELL
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
drag on, challenges are mounting for local entrepreneurs and small businesses. Even a region as resilient as ours is struggling to survive. Business owners need every resource they can possibly get, and one great resource is the nonprofit organization StayLocal. Founded in 2001, StayLocal describes itself as “Greater New Orleans’ Independent Business Alliance.” Or as Program Manager Maryann Miller put it, “We’ve been banging the ‘locals-supporting-locals’ drum forever.” Typically, StayLocal works to connect local businesses to each other, and to encourage area residents to shop at local businesses. One positive Miller has seen during the coronavirus time is that “customers recognize the importance of local businesses and how they give back more to the community and seem to be putting extra attention on supporting local businesses.” In this context, StayLocal has been putting increased emphasis on connecting entrepreneurs to any and all possible resources. This starts with the organization’s staff staying on top of every possible source themselves, including government, nonprofit and business-to-business resources. “Right now, there are quite a few consultants and advisors willing to help at reduced or even no cost, and they have more time available,” Miller reported. “They can help with things like business interruption plans and continuity plans.” While StayLocal is a member organization, currently it is making information and connections available to all local businesses. Its website, StayLocal.org, has a treasure trove of information on grants, webinars, services, loans and much more. Click on the “Resources” button on the home page to get started. In addition to focusing on available resources, this is also a good time to examine every aspect of your business’s operations. For example, has every item in your product (or service) line really been working for you, even before the pandemic? Is your supply chain as efficient, with minimum vulnerabilities, as possible? Could you be relying more on local sources for products and professional services? Miller emphasized that by purchasing from other local businesses, networking wherever possible and collaborating on marketing, local businesses can provide vital support for each other. Even competitors
within a geographic area may want to team up to market the fact that their block, street or neighborhood is open for business, as a way to draw customers to their area. With cash flow at low levels, businesses may want to look for opportunities to barter with other businesses for needed products and services. Miller noted that StayLocal has witnessed businesses simply giving away what they can as a way to help other local entrepreneurs. She also highlighted the importance of the business-to-business relationships that local owners have developed over the years and can call on at this time. As one example, she pointed out that “local businesses have closer relationships with their landlords, and if they are struggling with paying rent, should be able to negotiate. A particular location may be particularly well suited to the business that is in there, and it is in the interest of the landlord to make the relationship work.” This is one of several advantages Miller cited, as challenged local businesses worry about the possible invasion of chain stores, if there is a vacuum created by local business failures. Chains don’t have these long-term local relationships; they often have very specific spatial requirements that are not suited to existing locations; and they may have their own challenges with supply chains, businesses services, etc. This is clearly not a fun time for business owners, or anyone else, but the same entrepreneurial spirit that leads individuals to launch their enterprises is the biggest possible asset to coming through this disaster with a viable path forward. Find every imaginable resource that is out there, draw on every relationship you have built over the years, but remember that your greatest resource is yourself. n
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY T O N Y H E A L E Y
Keith Twitchell spent 16 years running his own business before becoming president of the Committee for a Better New Orleans. He has observed, supported and participated in entrepreneurial ventures at the street, neighborhood, nonprofit, micro- and macro-business levels.
AS THE PANDEMIC AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
Perspectives HOT TOPICS IN SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA INDUSTRIES
HEALTHCARE How has COVID-19 changed the way local senior living facilities operate?
EDUCATION Colleges and universities tackle how to house students while minimizing risk.
LAW What typie of protections exist for a tenant going through bankruptcy?
GUEST Affordable housing canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait
PERSPECTIVES HE ALT HC ARE
L. STEPHEN HOLZHALB, III EXECUTIVE OFFICER CHRISTWOOD
SEAN ARRILLAGA OWNER PERISTYLE RESIDENCES
It warms my heart to hear and see how the idea of personal responsibility has been taken to heart, and how it has been expanded into taking loving responsibility for others. This is a new form of accountability — a higher level. I know we will never be able to become a completely self-sustaining community, but I think the response I have seen to this new challenge has moved us much further in that direction. And, happily, I see that a love for others has been the motivating force.
Our talented team of program coordinators and managers has worked diligently to overcome the current challenges, including by providing all residents with iPads to connect with loved ones through services like FaceTime and Skype. We have also partnered with music therapists to broadcast virtual concerts. A resident favorite has been displaying the artwork of their grandchildren on our lawns and outside their bedroom windows.
ERIN KOLB CEO POYDRAS HOME Poydras Home, a continuing care retirement community in Uptown New Orleans, is prepared to conduct masked, socially distanced, outdoor visits, limited to 15 minutes with two or fewer family members, behind a plexiglass barrier when it is permitted. Residents of advanced age don’t have time to wait out the pandemic before resuming quality time with their family members. The pandemic response is failing our elderly. We are being forced to do all the things we know to be detrimental: cutting them off from family, friendships, group activities and group dining. This cannot be maintained until there is a vaccine.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
How has COVID-19 changed your operations as a senior living/care facility?
DANIEL J. RITTER
VICE PRESIDENT OF TEAM AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE SCHONBERG CARE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR INSPIRED LIVING KENNER
OWNER AUDUBON CARE HOME
Added protocols of temperature checks, increased sanitizing and cleaning schedules and the use of PPE have been the biggest changes. Our programming staff had to get creative to keep our residents engaged, but still follow the protocols of the CDC and Louisiana Department of Health. FaceTime visits, porch visits and socially distanced parking lot socials have become very popular. While we may have had to adjust the way that we do some things, our mission has not changed. We care, think, understand and act quickly and we are generous in spirit, making every effort to care for our moms and dads as if they were our own parents.
Our chief concern as an assisted living home is to keep residents safe, healthy and comfortable, while also avoiding feelings of isolation. We are the first assisted living home in our area to utilize person-centered engagement technology. Everyone deserves to continue living a full life as they age—one with joy, purpose and meaningful connections. This technology brings people together, connecting seniors with what interests and fulfills them and enabling them to share conversations, experiences, learning and fun with each other, their caregivers and family members.
Our determination and mission to exceed expectations for our residents and family members, as well as staff, has only been strengthened through this unfortunate event. Through technology such as Skype, FaceTime and video chat, we have brought families across the country closer to their loved ones. We also took care of our staff and managers. As Louisiana’s largest familyowned and -operated assisted living and memory care provider, we are proud to say all six of our Louisiana communities are COVID-19 free and accepting admissions!
PERSPECTIVES EDUC AT ION
Space Cadets New Orleans Colleges and Universities rethink housing BY RICH COLLINS
ADMINISTRATORS AND UNIVERSITIES HAVE
a challenging task this fall. They need to provide students with some semblance of the college experience families are expecting and paying for, while avoiding a COVID-19 outbreak that would force schools to take more extreme measures to fight the spread of the disease. NEW DORM NORMS
So how are local schools managing this balancing act? To start, most have created as much social distance as possible in their housing facilities. Xavier University, for instance, adopted a single occupancy model for university housing.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
“Each student will live in a private bedroom,” said Lance Sumler, the school’s manager of communications and media relations. “Depending on the type of residence hall, some will share a community bathroom, while others may share a bathroom with one to three people.” In addition to its four on-campus residence halls, the school also leased 200 beds at Privateer Place Apartments on the campus of the University of New Orleans, as well as more than 600 rooms at the Hilton Riverside Hotel. The arrangement with the Hilton serves a dual purpose since downtown hotel occupancy has been hovering at historic lows since the pandemic began.
To date, our students have done their best to comply and make the best of a challenging situation. Roland Bullard, VP of student success at Dillard University
Michael Strecker, the executive director of Tulane University public relations, said Tulane is also working to create as much space as possible. “We have de-densified on-campus housing,” he said. “Twenty-nine percent of our students on campus are in single occupancy rooms and the maximum allowed is two students per room. Tulane is also offering single room occupancy at the Hyatt Place to students who request it.” These efforts by administrators have to be matched by student diligence if plans to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are going to work. That hasn’t been a problem so far at Dillard University, where the student population has “bought in” to the school’s efforts to create space, according to Dr. Roland Bullard, the school’s vice president of student success. “We are really pleased with the maturity and the level of engagement by our students with regard to COVID-19 awareness so far,” he said. “They have really taken an active role in ensuring that they are holding each other accountable for the safety of the campus.” Dillard’s traditional residence halls were converted to accommodate a single occupancy model, meaning that most students have their own single residence hall room to comply with social distancing. This decreases the campus housing bed count by more than 40%, which meant Dillard needed to increase the number of students who reside with its residential partner, Southern University New Orleans. “This increased commuter population meant offering socially distanced shuttle rides and additional commuter spaces on campus,” said Bullard. “To date, our students have done their best to comply and make the best of a challenging situation.” Bullard said he’s mostly worried about off-campus events. “Students will really have to think clearly about their responsibility to the Dillard ‘bubble’ before they head out into the community,” he said. “We plan to do surveillance testing of some portion of our student body and workforce weekly. We hope this will help us monitor or mitigate outbreaks. To date, though, we are pleased with the way the Dillard community is tackling this challenge.” Adam Norris, UNO’s chief communications officer, said the school has assigned 70% of its residence hall beds and is holding over 5% of bed spaces to use for potential isolation/quarantine spaces if needed. UNO,
like most schools, requires face coverings and social distancing in public areas of residence halls. Guest rules are strict and there are limits on occupancy in public areas. Students who become ill must quarantine. Parking decal registration, room inventory inspections, floor meetings and other tasks are now completed online, as are social events led by residence assistants. Similar rules are in effect at the University of Holy Cross, a school that’s uniquely well suited to offer a socially distant experience this year. The 104-year-old Catholic school, located on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, is fortunate to have a residence hall that is only two years old and not yet at full capacity. This enables all resident students to have their own private rooms and private bathrooms. “The UHC Residence Hall has a total of 72 units and 115 bedrooms and can accommodate up to 115 residents during usual times,” said Holy Cross President Dr. Stanton McNeely III. “Some student residents who were in the residence hall last semester say because of COVID-19 they are going to take a break this semester, but others are saying because of the nature of the college and the dorm being small and spacious, they have signed up for a room this coming semester.” McNeely said the student population is prone to following safety protocols and added that the school’s in-person courses this fall are heavily in the areas of nursing and health sciences where best practices are the standard.
Before [a temporary zoning district went into effect], approximately one property a month was being converted to expensive dormitorystyle housing. Keith Hardie, lawyer and activist, regarding the “Doubles to Dorms” trend in Uptown New Orleans.
DOUBLES TO DORMS
Only tangentially related to the COVID-19 crisis, another student housing issue is roiling Uptown New Orleans in particular this year. Activists representing neighborhoods near Tulane and Loyola universities are battling developers who are buying residential houses and replacing them with buildings with lots of bedrooms to house lots of students. In some cases, small houses have been replaced with buildings that have more than a dozen individual bedrooms. This “doubles to dorms” trend is being driven by private equity firms looking to charge maximum rent in the growing private student housing industry. Residents near the universities complain of parking issues, rising rents, less green space and water absorption, additional trash and noise, and permanent damage to the aesthetics of the neighborhoods. “The D2D housing phenomenon, which came to New Orleans only last summer, is changing the university area at a rapid rate,” wrote lawyer and activist Keith Hardie in a report he presented to the City Planning Commission. “Before [a temporary zoning
district went into effect], approximately one property a month was being converted to expensive dormitory-style housing. Some of this housing had been lower-density student housing, but other properties had provided housing to local homeowners and renters for decades. Student housing has been around for years, but the high density of the D2Ds is far beyond previous expectations.” DINE AND DASH
Dining is another major challenge for the planners of campus life during the pandemic. This fall, schools are limiting the number of people allowed in common dining areas, eliminating self-serve food options (goodbye, all-you-caneat buffets), increasing cleaning and sanitation efforts, providing sanitizer stations, and adding barriers between staff and students. “Our campus dining service has trained all of its staff with proper COVID-19 food handling guidelines,” said Xavier’s Sumler. “Staff will wear masks and gloves at all times. We have reduced the capacity in the dining rooms and offered more ‘grab and go’ options. There are staff roaming the dining hall whose sole job is to clean and disinfect tables between use.” Tulane’s Dining Services, meanwhile, continues to offer a variety of to-go and packaged meals from retail locations across campus, as well as seated, all-you-care-to-eat service in its dining halls, said Strecker. “In addition to our existing dining venues, a temporary structure has been added on the Berger Family Lawn to provide extra serving and socially distanced seating space.” Strecker said the school’s dining services department is launching a new online ordering app that will allow students to order meals for pick-up or on-campus delivery. One important note for night owls in need of a caffeine boost: Food and drink are prohibited under current operating protocols and the PJ’s Coffee in the lobby of Tulane’s Howard-Tilton Memorial Library is closed for the duration of fall semester. ‘MEET STUDENTS WHERE THEY ARE’
All the precautions leave you wondering how students will be able to have a satisfying college experience. The answer is … very carefully, according to LaVerne Toombs in the Office of Community Outreach and University Advancement at Southern University at New Orleans. “When encouraging students to do anything out of the norm for them they tend to do the opposite of what is being asked of them,” she said. “At SUNO Housing we use the method of ‘meeting the student where they are,’ which allows us to have a better relationship with our residential community when enforcing new measures for safety. We want students to have the college experience, just in a safer way than before. This is new for all of us.” n
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
We have reduced the capacity in the dining rooms and offered more ‘grab and go’ options. There are staff roaming the dining hall whose sole job is to clean and disinfect tables between use. Lance Sumler, manager of communications and media relations for Xavier University
PERSPECTIVES L AW
JONATHAN R. DETRINIS
ALBERT J. DERBES, IV
PARTNER DEUTSCH KERRIGAN
OWNER/OPERATOR DET LAW FIRM
CO-MANAGING MEMBER DERBES LAW FIRM, LLC
When a leased tenant files bankruptcy, the tenant may: (1) assume the lease, meaning the tenant will remain in the lease obligations or (2) reject the lease, meaning the tenant may extinguish lease responsibilities. In the time the tenant files bankruptcy and before the tenant decides to assume or reject the lease, they are required to make payments according to the terms of the lease. If the tenant fails to make payments, the landlord may seek a number of remedies with the court.
Filing bankruptcy (chapters 7, 11 and 13) can be utilized to secure a variety of legal and financial benefits for good people/businesses that are going through tough times. One of the most important benefits afforded to a person or business filing bankruptcy is the “automatic stay” protection that they immediately receive upon the filing of their case. This protection acts as a legal blockade against creditors’ collection actions outside of bankruptcy court. Since this “automatic stay” effectively halts all collection actions from moving forward, a tenant could utilize bankruptcy for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, stopping/delaying lawsuits, such as eviction proceedings; buying themselves more time to work out alternative arrangements; catching up on past-due rent; or blocking all communication from harassing landlords.
BARRY GRODSKY PARTNER TAGGART MORTON At any time before a judgment of eviction is rendered, a tenant may file for bankruptcy. Most cases for individuals will be in Chapter 13, which requires the tenant to prepare a plan and to repay their debts that were due before the bankruptcy over a 60-month period. The filing of the bankruptcy creates an automatic stay, which will stop the eviction process. The stay, however, is not permanent, and the tenant will have to create the plan to repay the past-due rent over time and keep the lease current. If a judgment of eviction is rendered, however, the bankruptcy filing will offer no protection because if the lease is terminated, the bankruptcy’s automatic stay will not go into effect, so timing is very important for tenants.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
What type of protections exist for any type of tenant going through bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy reorganization for businesses under Chapter 11 (as well as for eligible small businesses under the new subchapter V of Chapter 11), can afford short term protection from eviction because of the “automatic stay.” This respite can provide the tenant/debtor an opportunity to “cure” the non-payment or other default and “assume” the lease. Bankruptcy reorganization also provides an opportunity to negotiate what are hopefully mutually satisfactory payment terms with the landlord in a confirmed plan of reorganization.
JILL A. GAUTREAUX PARTNER KEAN MILLER LLP (NEW ORLEANS OFFICE) The landlord is prevented from initiating and prosecuting eviction and other state court enforcement proceedings. The tenant enjoys a lengthy period of time to decide whether to continue or terminate the lease. In order to assume the lease, the tenant must promptly cure any lease defaults. If the tenant assumes the lease, [they] may assign it to a third party, notwithstanding any assignment restrictions in the lease. Additionally, the bankruptcy court is granted broad jurisdiction to preside over damages and back rent claims. The landlord’s claims under a rejected lease for damages as a result of the terminated lease are capped by the Bankruptcy Code.
The Time is Now Thousands of New Orleanians are struggling to keep a roof over their heads during this pandemic. We can’t afford to wait any longer for action. BY ANDREANECIA M. MORRIS
RIGHT NOW, MORE THAN 50,000 NEW ORLEANS
households are struggling to pay rent due to COVID-19-related job loss and housing insecurity. It’s beyond time local, state and federal leaders #PutHousingFirst by providing immediate rental assistance. Recent data shows an estimated $250-$500 million is needed statewide to keep vulnerable renters in their homes through the end of this year. New Orleans alone needs at least $60 million and has thousands of households on a waiting list for rental assistance. In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Health & Human Services announced a broad moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent through the end of the year for all tenants who meet certain eligibility requirements and present a signed declaration to their landlords. But while an eviction moratorium is essential, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off when the moratorium
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
expires and back rent is owed. This action delays, but does not prevent, evictions and it does nothing for essential workers or vulnerable populations on fixed incomes who have not lost income but are still struggling to keep a roof over their heads. It also does nothing for the people already evicted during the pandemic. Congress and the White House must work on negotiations to enact a COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. City and state officials must #PutHousingFirst by providing assistance for essential workers who are housing insecure and by providing new housing for vulnerable populations. Together with the national eviction moratorium, this would keep renters stably housed during and after the pandemic. New Orleans and the state of Louisiana must use funds from all available sources, including CARES Act supplemental Community Development Block Grants
Andreanecia M. Morris is the executive director of HousingNOLA, a 10-year partnership between the community leaders, and dozens of public, private and nonprofit organizations working to solve New Orleans’ affordable housing crisis.
and Emergency Services Grants, for immediate rental assistance so landlords can continue to provide housing for renters and to secure occupiable hotel rooms and short-term rentals for the housing insecure as shelter-in-place and social distancing policies tighten. The rental assistance should have renter protections, such as just-cause eviction protections, a 14-day right to cure, anti-retaliation policies and fair criminal background screening procedures in order to secure the city’s investment in each unit of affordable housing and ensure stability and long-term tenancy for the renter. These programs should also include an allocation for case workers, for those in need of social services, and for property managers and maintenance personnel who will be working tirelessly to ensure the habitability of homes during this crisis. This crisis calls for bold ideas from leaders who aren’t afraid to put those ideas into action. We need the kind of leadership that turned the convention center into a $200 million hospital and created a $300 million program for small businesses that were left out of the $8 billion in funds other Louisiana businesses received through the PPP program. Why hasn’t this kind of innovative thinking been done for housing? Where is the housing program from leaders that the people of New Orleans need and deserve? Our failure to address the city’s affordable housing crisis now demands quick action in light of this global pandemic. We can no longer wait years for construction of new homes and apartments, nor can we delay policy implementation for months. We need solutions that provide housing within days, so our family, friends and neighbors aren’t forced to risk their health to keep a roof over their heads. For those who are struggling with housing insecurity, we need solutions that address those concerns within hours. HousingNOLA and its advocacy partner, the Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance (GNOHA) continue to call on the governor and mayor to lead by example and use their executive powers to finally align resources and direct local and state agencies to #PutHousingFirst and guarantee sustainable housing solutions. We must provide real relief, follow through with impactful programs and connect people with the thousands of empty homes, apartments and hotel rooms that are available right now. The pandemic calls for people to shelter at home, and because of that the time has come for our leaders to address the affordable housing crisis that has crippled this community for years. n
1 2 TOP R E A L E STAT E
PORTRAITS BY JEFFERY JOHNSTON
LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN OUR LIVES, the current pandemic has impacted the construction and real estate industry in a wide variety of ways. In the residential marketplace, demand has remained strong, driven by homebound residents who are feeling a strong desire for change â&#x20AC;&#x201D; whether that be for a home with a pool, one with more space for families that are now living and working side-by-side, or a desire to relocate to less populated areas. Current historically low interest rates have certainly spurred action in this area and realtors have been turning more and more to 3D and virtual tours to introduce buyers to available options. But while low interest rates are great for homebuyers, they have caused problems for local banks. The pandemic has also interrupted supply chains and increased material costs for builders and devastated the hospitality industry. The commercial real estate industry is also struggling with this â&#x20AC;&#x153;new normalâ&#x20AC;? as companies reevaluate how and where they operate in order to meet current safety demands. This is a time of great uncertainty for us all, but like all the challenges that have come before it, we will rise to the challenge by embracing change and the innovations it creates and by recognizing that we are all in this together.
12 TOP REAL ESTATE INFLUENCERS
MANAGING PARTNER • NORF
ALEX HERNANDEZ THE REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT
division of Hernandez Consulting & Construction, NORF Companies specializes in Historic Tax Credit and Qualified Opportunity Zone projects. Notable projects within the last few years include: Tulane School of Medicine Student Housing (1315 Gravier); 131 Carondelet Hotel; The Francis Apartments (131 S. Jeff Davis); Mambo’s Restaurant (411 Bourbon); The Banks Apartments (3100 Banks); and New Orleans Museum of Art renovations.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS OCTOBER 2020
What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? Initially the biggest challenge was just being able to keep construction going on projects with all the COVID-19 uncertainty and fears everyone had. Luckily, we kept the majority of our projects in construction and we just took the proper safety measures on. I think at this point we have settled into this new normal just fine in that way, but the next biggest challenge we are seeing is that banks are not wanting to finance what were excellent projects pre-COVID-19. We are seeing the banks really want to take a “wait and see” approach, which I am hopeful we can turn the corner on soon. What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? Due to the unprecedented run-up in the stock market we have seen this year, we are optimistically expecting an upsurge in capital gains investment proceeds being redeployed into Qualified Opportunity Zone Funds. Theses funds are gearing up to capitalize on all the distressed real estate sure to come after all the bank loan forbearance runs its course. We feel the convergence of both of these scenarios will create excellent real estate investment opportunities in 2021.
L . BRYAN FRANCHER AND LESLIE A . PERRIN PRINCIPALS THE FRANCHER PERRIN GROUP THE FRANCHER PERRIN GROUP
of Gardner Realtors has been operating in New Orleans for over 30 years, during which it has been honored with many top awards from the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors, an Economic Development Ambassador of New Orleans award from the New Orleans Business Alliance, and has been named among the top three real estate agents in New Orleans by Gambit’s Best Of New Orleans Reader’s Poll. The group includes L. Bryan Francher, Leslie A. Perrin, Jeanne D. Peres, Josee Francher Kantak, John Seitz and Will Peters Jr. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? One of the biggest challenges is the limited faceto-face contact with clients, but technology has allowed our business to continue in a positive direction. At the same time, we are trying to market New Orleans properties to people who migrated to the big city lifestyle of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago etc. in an effort to entice them to consider a small city lifestyle that has everything one could hope for without the major congestion. Another challenge we are facing not only as Realtors, but also as a community, is the loss of so many of our beloved small businesses. One of the Francher Perrin Group’s missions is to work with sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants to get our historic district’s commercial activity put back into place.
What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? Prior to COVID-19, the trend to retire to a dense area where you would have access to restaurants, museums and galleries was on the rise. Now, the pendulum is starting to swing in the opposite direction, toward a lifestyle that offers less populated areas with more living space and natural surroundings. Other changes we expect to see are clients buying larger houses to accommodate their children’s needs and room to build separate guest quarters for aging parents. The desire to keep the family unit together is greater than ever and the safest place to be during a pandemic is right at home! As long as low interest rates are available, real estate will continue on the upswing. The Francher Perrin Group motto has never been more meaningful: “Love Where You Live!” BIZNEWORLEANS.COM
12 TOP REAL ESTATE INFLUENCERS
PRESIDENT • RYCARS
RYAN E. BURKS
BRYCE FRENCH COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE AGENT MAX J. DERBES, INC.
RYCARS IS A REGIONAL
commercial roofing general contractor with a client base that includes industries like healthcare, institutional, education and the military. Notable projects include: Nashville Street Wharf; the Mercedes Benz Superdome; Lusher High School; McMain High School; and Alario Center.
MAX J. DERBES, INC. IS A FULL-
What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? Our industry’s biggest challenge is addressing the labor shortage due to an aging workforce and lack of interest in the construction industry from younger generations. It is extremely difficult to recruit and retain younger people. Construction is not as attractive a career route compared to the tech industry, even though it is a vital economic indicator for the country’s GDP. In an effort to adapt, we have focused on training and development in conjunction with partnering with other companies to share resources.
What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? Market uncertainty is our biggest current challenge. The new norm has also accelerated the shift of retail consumers from traditional storefront to e-commerce and product delivery. These factors, and others, have shifted Industrial assets to be more sought after than ever for investment. Adapting successfully requires understanding these changes and making projections accordingly.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS OCTOBER 2020
What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? The changes in our industry include the continuous development of new, innovative products and equipment to minimize the dire need for a skilled labor workforce.
service commercial real estate brokerage firm where Bryce French works with clients in industrial, office and investment assets and specializes in maritime industrial assets. Recently, French brokered the sale of the former Entergy power plant in St. Gabriel for an MS River oil and gas bulk liquids terminal.
What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? Industrial investment assets will continue next year to outpace the other asset classes and e-commerce product providers will continue to place an emphasis on warehousing and distribution assets. Production facilities will expand to meet these additional demands and those of the growing straightto-consumer model. Small- to mid-size properties, including flex space, should see increases in occupancy and rates should increase as the service companies who typically occupy these properties are less impacted than the traditional office and retail users. Industrial markets in cities such as New Orleans with a thriving port economy should continue to trend up.
GULF COAST BANK IS A
GUY T. WILLIAMS PRESIDENT GULF COAST BANK
full-service financial institution with 45 locations and 800 employees offering financial products throughout the United States. The bank is the leading lender to firsttime home buyers in the metro area, as well as a major construction and development lender. Trust and wealth management services are also provided by local staff for both institutions and individuals. The bank recently renovated its historic Gretna location into a mixed-use project with retail, commercial and banking spaces, as well as residential lofts and a rooftop deck. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? Low interest rates combined with a drastic slowdown of our tourist- and energyrelated businesses will make growth in South Louisiana challenging. What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? Residential mortgage rates and deposit rates will remain low until the Federal Reserve changes its policies. The industry will focus on cost cutting and consolidation in 2020 and 2021.
12 TOP REAL ESTATE INFLUENCERS
SENIOR COMMERCIAL AGENT • INVESTMENT/HOSPITALITY DIVISION • NAI LATTER & BLUM, INC.
CHRIS R. ROSS
PETER M. TRAPOLIN AND PAULA M. PEER
LICENSED SINCE 1998, CHRIS
R. Ross has closed on over 1,000 rooms totaling over $200 million in completed transaction valuation. Notable projects include the 182-room Oil & Gas Building, Canopy Hotel; the 185-room Troubadour Hotel at 1111 Gravier Street; the 165-room Cambria Suites by Choice; the 210-room luxury boutique independent NOPSI Hotel; 155-room Saratoga building, Sonesta ES; and the 105-room maritime building of Holiday Inn Club Vacations.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS OCTOBER 2020
What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? The biggest challenge for the hospitality brokerage industry is of course COVID-19. The market is expected to have a 20% decrease in valuation on properties, with occupancy expected to improve but rates staying depressed for the next several years. As a result, I have had to “pivot” to doing more overall brokerage, which includes industrial, office and retail. I’m also looking to do more regional hotel brokerage as I expect some transaction opportunities to happen toward the end of this year and the beginning of 2021. What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? I see the commercial real estate industry rapidly changing because of consumer access to information. Agents will need to be focused on overall customer service and update market data to service clients. The hospitality market will be affected by the vacation rental properties and their ability to be up and running a lot faster than some of the larger hotels. Most of these properties don’t have staff and can be profitable at a lower rental rate than hotels.
FAIA , PRINCIPAL AIA , PRINCIPAL TRAPOLIN-PEER ARCHITEC TS TRAPOLIN-PEER ARCHITECTS
is a human-centered design practice with an imaginative and sustainable approach to reinvention and revitalization. The firm specializes in adaptive reuse, historic restoration and contextual new construction design work spanning a variety of uses throughout the Southeast. TPA’s recent projects include The Sazerac House; The Julia Apartments; The Pearl Hotel in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi; 1 Palafox Place in Pensacola, Florida; Edna Karr High School; May and Ellis; and the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? With the positive momentum today surrounding design equity, our industry has an opportunity to reconsider socially resilient architecture. Alongside our development partners, TPA is consciously examining how people experience the spaces we create and how the projects ultimately impact and interact with the communities in which they are developed. The common thread we’ve identified is the need for increasingly flexible design in all of our project types, from education to multifamily to hospitality to community spaces. For the latter in particular, flexible
design means a property can pivot to maintain active programming, regardless of the climate. What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? We are currently collaborating with Son of a Saint and YWCA to create the flexible spaces they need to navigate this transitional moment and beyond. We hope this shift toward recognizing architecture as an agent of change continues to be at the forefront of national dialogue, and we are proud to help lead the way in the Southeast.
12 TOP REAL ESTATE INFLUENCERS
OWNER/BROKER • MIRAMBELL REALTY
CRAIG K. MIRAMBELL JR.
CHRI S COMBS OWNER C M COMBS CONSTRUC TION, LLC
MIRAMBELL REALTY IS A
technology-driven real estate brokerage servicing Metro New Orleans all the way to the Gulf Coast in Mississippi. The company prides itself on representing buyers and sellers by utilizing advanced technology and creative marketing.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS OCTOBER 2020
What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? COVID-19 has played a part in all of our real estate transactions. At Mirambell Realty, we have been using 3D virtual tours for almost 10 years now, so our advertising practices haven’t changed much with the pandemic, though our clicks on these tours have more than doubled during the pandemic. The biggest issue facing our industry in New Orleans isn’t COVID-19, though, it’s inventory! There are two reasons inventory is so low in our market. First, interest rates are at historic lows. Second, this pandemic has shifted many people’s way of thinking about their current home. After a long period of quarantine at home, many are now looking for homes with pools, or smaller or larger homes than they had before. Ultimately, our buyers are looking for something different, and they want it now. What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? In the next year, I expect the sales to slow down a bit. They won’t stop, but I would expect sales to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. I expect the buying fever we recently experienced to slow with upcoming elections followed immediately by the holidays, but as long as interest rates stay low, as expected, buyers will still keep this market churning.
C M COMBS CONSTRUCTION IS A
commercial general contractor serving Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Notable projects include: the pedestrian bridge and Higgins Plaza at The National WW II Museum; Orleans Levee District new police station; the new regional headquarters for Raymond James; and the major renovation of the Shrine on Airline. C M Combs is currently assisting The National WWII Museum in the completion of The Canopy of Peace, as well as the new Shark Tank Touch Pool Exhibit at Audubon Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? In addition to greater safety efforts, we have seen a disruption to supply chains and material cost increases created by current demand and the challenge factories and suppliers are facing with reduced workforces and limited capacities. Through collaborative efforts of all parties these challenges, and the costs and schedule impacts of them, are being mitigated and new expectations set. What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? I expect we will feel the economic impact of the shutdown — assuming we move toward opening the economy sooner than later — in much of the private and public construction sectors well into next year. I also believe that working remotely will stay with us and we will see the technology that facilitates that ability continue to expand. I have said often that 2020 is going to look dramatically different in hindsight than it looks today. I feel the lessons learned from the wins and losses of this year are going to create stronger companies and communities.
WITRY COLLECTIVE IS A
KATIE WITRY REALTOR/OWNER WITRY COLLECTIVE
real estate firm that combines education, market knowledge and specialized strategies for its clients. The firmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s team of eight closes a property every three days. Each owner is also involved in local nonprofits: Katie Witry is currently the vice chair of the Preservation Resource Center and is also serving a nine-year term as a commissioner with the City Planning Commission. What is the biggest challenge facing your industry in this new normal and how are you adapting? One of the biggest challenges we have faced was being able to meet with clients, show them properties and show our listings. There have been many changes in marketing properties, from virtual open houses and cooking demonstrations on site at our listings to 3D virtual tours. Our social media outlets and presence have been a huge factor in keeping our business and our listings in the forefront of peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s minds and our sales have remained very active and productive.
What changes do you see in your industry in the next year? I think there will continue to be innovations in marketing properties creatively through social media, direct mail and possibly an increase in local print advertising. This past spring, the market was clearly impacted and delayed, which is why we have seen the volume of sales in months that are typically much slower (July and August for example) in our local market. Election years typically see a slowdown in activity, and we anticipate that this trend will carry over to the current election cycle. As interest rates stay low, the market will continue to be active in general, but we do anticipate a slowing trend overall.
BUS INE SS E S DI S CUSS TH EIR ROAD TO RECOV E R Y
UNP R ECEDENTED TI M ES CAL L FOR UNP R ECEDENTED M EA SUR ES. As our city, our state and the world adjust to ever-shifting standards of normalcy, businesses are finding innovative ways to adapt and position their teams for continued success. While the road to recovery may be paved with uncertainties and challenges unique to each industry, one thing is certain: New Orleans is no stranger to resiliency, and our professional community has all the expertise, prowess and determination needed to emerge stronger and more prosperous than ever. In this exclusive section, Biz New Orleans asked business leaders about their tactics for readjusting, working remotely and staying focused on their corporate missions during the historic COVID-19 pandemic.
S P ON S OR E D
B I Z F O R W A R D : T H E R OA D TO R E COV E R Y
T R A N S L AT I O N S E R V I C E S
more than ever we all need a reinforced sense of community. We’ve had to get creative with and change the delivery methods of our services in some instances, but it’s been invigorating to help people by providing critical access to information.
Stability in Flexibility Being open to change can reveal new needs and better solutions.
IF IT’ S WRITTEN DOWN OR SPOKEN AND NEEDS
translation—TNOLA Languages likely covers it. The company’s strategic collaboration with highly trained, experienced professionals with specializations in legal, medical, technical and educational fields gives clients across the Gulf Coast access to language assistance in more than 30 language pairs. TNOLA’s comprehensive services include translation with written documents such as contracts, medical records, and legal judgments as well as onsite or remote interpretation for meetings, hearings, depositions, medical appointments and much more. In addition to its legal, educational, and medical expertise, TNOLA is also a go-to resource for HR firms, insurance companies, and shipping and port services. Its on-demand, over-the-phone service and video conferencing has helped the company continue to provide services safely during the pandemic. In what ways are you thriv ing and pushing forward as a business throughout the pandemic? We are fortunate in the sense that demand for our services hasn’t gone away. There is always a need for communication, and even global pandemics don’t remove language barriers. In fact, in a time when it’s absolutely crucial that information be shared with all people, interpretation and translation services have never been more important. A large-scale health crisis like this has also brought to light where the gaps in those services are. Our vision is to create communities without language barriers, and I think now
What has been your ex perience w ith the change to remote working? We had a unique experience in that it didn’t require much change at all. We’ve always run a lean operation and were largely working remotely. Since much of what we do is either onsite at client locations or done remotely, our internal teams were well equipped for the shift. We definitely miss the human connection of being able to gather and interact for meetings, but we were already ahead of the curve in terms of remote collaboration. I’ve believed for a long time that traditional office space is in many ways outdated—especially in an age where most “office work” can be done from anywhere with an internet connection. My hope is that this experience will help us collectively re-evaluate how we use resources and eliminate some of the waste that happens with large offices. Are there any lessons you have learned over these last few months? Any new technologies or methodologies you’ ve embraced? The past few months have been a humbling experience in a lot of ways. I think the biggest lesson we’ve learned is the importance of remaining flexible. It doesn’t matter how much planning or forecasting you do. Something unexpected will inevitably happen and the ability to react in a flexible way is what will determine the outcome. Historically for us, the majority of our services were done at client locations. When those locations shut down, that work disappeared overnight. But rather than react rigidly and say, “Oh no, all is lost!” we were open to change and shifted our efforts to written translations. Every day brought new information that needed to reach people of diverse backgrounds. Being open to that shift and recognizing the need allowed us to diversify, and now, as more of the onsite work comes back, we’re finding ourselves in a more stable position than we were before the pandemic started.
The biggest lesson we’ve learned is the importance of remaining flexible.
TNOLA LANGUAGES NEW ORLEANS, LA • (504) 444-2429 • TNOLA.COM
ANDR EW DAFOE FOUNDER & CEO
or seniors, the pandemic has presented a particularly challenging time. The necessity of social distancing has been isolating for many, and even if living independently, extra precautions have likely reduced time spent with friends and loved ones. Fortunately, the New Orleans area offers a wide array of services and communities available for older adults, and many are identifying safe and innovative ways to provide assistance when needed while keeping individuals connected with the people in their lives. As uncertain times continue to shift, pushing the boundaries of what was used to be “normal,” local professionals in senior living are adjusting with flexibility and careful consideration to find solutions to new issues as they arise. If you or someone you know is experiencing life changes that call for a move to a smaller, more manageable home or added assistance to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle, the following resources may offer a solution to the new challenges faced.
Senior Liv ing & Retirement Communities Audubon Care Homes Family-owned and operated, Audubon Care Homes offers residential assisted living in a comfortable, home-like environment for seniors with specialized efforts for residents in need of memory care. Their latest innovation is the iN2L touch screen computer system, which is programmed for activities, games, therapy, music, virtual museum tours, 1:1 intervention, staff education, 60
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
and more. The system allows for residents to communicate with the world, family and friends through Skype and an online Family Portal, where they can share and access videos, photos and other media to keep them engaged and connected. These features have become even more significant in light of COVID-19, as experts stress the importance of sustaining meaningful relationships when in-person visits to residential assisted living are limited or restricted. Audubon Care Homes provides each resident the tools they need to stay safe, healthy and connected while in a high-quality, luxurious setting. For more information, call 504-290-1717 or visit the Audubon Care Homes website at auduboncarehomes.com. Ville Ste. Marie Customization is key at Ville Ste. Marie—the freedom to embrace your own lifestyle and preferences is what sets this affordable senior living community apart. Creating a custom care plan based on individual needs will help ensure you or your loved one maintains independence where possible and assistance where it’s needed. With independent living and assisted living packages, community options are tailored to both active lifestyles and those requiring specialized care. Seniors can choose from a variety of floor plans that give them the comfort and familiarity they desire, from a studio or small one-bedroom to medium and large one-bedrooms, as well as a two-bedroom option. All residents are welcome to enjoy the events, meals, and fun-filled activities that happen throughout the month.
S P ON S OR E D
Ville Ste. Marie’s dedicated team of caregivers prioritize comfort and safety for residents, who enjoy a lush campus located just a short walk from the Mississippi River. For more information, call 504-834-3164 or visit villestemarie.com to learn more and view a video tour. Christwood Christwood is known as the Northshore’s premier Life Plan Community. Christwood residents enrich their lives as they discover new passions and take up hobbies while meeting new friends. Independent living residents enjoy a concierge lifestyle on the grounds of a 117-acre campus with convenient access to shopping, dining, entertainment and medical services. Many residents continue their love of volunteering and work with service organizations both on and off campus. Their assisted living is a Level 4 Adult Residential Care Assisted Living provider, a unique designation that provides a licensed nurse on site for 24 hours a day and higher than required staffing levels. Since 1996, the community has served the Gulf Coast and surrounding area with consistent standard-setting care with the best possible service. They are continuing to build out their offerings, most recently by opening up assisted living, skilled nursing and cognitive memory care for non-residents on a limited basis. To learn more, call 985-898-0515 or visit Christwoodrc.com. The Blake The Blake is a resort-style senior living community opening in November 2020. Their campus on Jefferson Highway in Harahan will offer seniors and their families a unique senior lifestyle option. Alongside their state-of-the-art hospitality services, The Blake offers a broad continuum of wellness and personal care, from 24-hour nurse staffing and housekeeping to transportation, on-site primary care health services, home health, and outpatient rehabilitation facilities. Providing only the highest levels of technology, apartment design, and recreation, The Blake will offer a full-service coffee shop, restaurant, and lounge along with expansive courtyards, a media theater, a chapel, full-service salon and spa, outdoor fireside seating, and an unmatched activity program. Their dining program is staffed by an executive chef and dedicated servers, providing residents with restaurant-style meal options with three courses at every meal. Now is the time to enjoy all The Blake has to offer with their Ageless Louisiana Living. For more information, visit blakeseniorliving.com. Inspired Living Kenner Inspired Living Kenner offers a resort-style community designed to allow seniors to thrive regardless of care needs. The purposebuilt community provides both assistance and empowerment to its residents, creating the ideal environment for a vibrant, happy lifestyle. Its features offer leisure and hospitality while providing care services for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living and beyond, from those who need “just a little” care to full, specialized help. Thanks to their popular rate-lock plan, seniors and their families can set a rate that works for them for Inspired Living
Kenner’s services, from personalized care plans and management to personal care and select nursing services. They also offer specialized memory care services, bringing an in-depth understanding of the unique emotional and physical needs of each individual living with dementia. To learn more about Inspired Living Kenner’s services, call 504-313-6600 or visit inspiredlivingkenner.com.
In-Home Serv ices Home Care Solutions Home Care Solutions is a locally owned and operated company specializing in compassionate in-home sitting services, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Care as well as Aging Life Care Management™ services to help your elderly loved ones extend their independence at home. “Our mission is to help our clients age in place gracefully while maintaining as much independence as possible,” says Rachel Palmer, Community Liaison. “During the pandemic, many families are under additional pressure to provide care for an aging loved one—as many of them are also coping with massive changes to their own schedules and lives, we can step in and provide an extra arm of support that provides less risk of exposure than at a retirement community while allowing for continued connection with family.” Caregivers are carefully matched to meet your loved one’s needs and personality, and their familiarity with local resources saves you time and often saves you money while their compassionate understanding of the aging process relieves you of unnecessary distress. For more information, call 504-828-0900 or visit HomeCareNewOrleans.com. Home Instead Senior Care While communities practice social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19, the loneliness many seniors already feel can be amplified. Home Instead Senior Care in Metairie recognizes the effects long-term isolation can have on the senior community, including higher risk of heart attack, stroke, depression, anxiety and premature death. They recommend the following ideas to ensure loved ones stay connected and engaged during these difficult times: 1. Set a schedule. Regular check-ins can go a long way toward helping older relatives feel supported. 2. Video chat. Technology can’t replace in-person human interaction, but video chat platforms offer a user-friendly way to reach out. 3. Call. Sometimes picking up the phone is the best way to get the job done. 4. Embrace snail mail. Sending a letter or postcard is an easy way to remind someone you’re thinking of them. For more ideas on how to connect with older adults in your life, visit ReadytoCare.com or call Home Instead Senior Care at 504-455-4911.
THE FASTEST GROWING CHAPTER IN THE GLOBAL EO NETWORK IN 2019 EO Louisiana is a chapter in the Global Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
which is a peer-to-peer network of more than 14,000+ influential business owners with 195 chapters in 61 countries. Founded in 1987, EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond.
To engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow.
To build the world’s most influential community of entrepreneurs.
Trust and Respect Thirst for Learning
Boldly Go! Make a Mark
To learn more about EO Louisiana visit us at EOLouisiana.org
STRATEGIC ALLIANCE PARTNERS WHO SUPPORT EO MEMBERS
From The Lens SOUTHEAST LOUISIANA BUSINESS IN FULL COLOR
WORKSPACES Rêve Realtors’ Garden District headquarters
WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT Selling the Big Easy
ON THE JOB Attenhofer’s Stained Glass Studio
FROM THE LENS GRE AT WORKSPACES
Living the Dream Rêve Realtors’ Garden District headquarters is a midcentury-inspired masterpiece BY MELANIE WARNER SPENCER PHOTOS BY SARA ESSEX BRADLEY
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
IN 2018, CLINT LACOUR, TRACEY MOORE, JOEY WALKER AND
Ryan Wentworth founded Rêve Realtors. The word rêve is French for dream, a concept at the heart of the business for the four partners, whose dream it was to start and build the company. In turn, they strive to help clients realize their dreams during the buying or selling process. In 2019, the partners saw another dream come to fruition with the opening of a new headquarters on Louisiana Avenue in the Garden District.
With the help of contractor Jon Drennan and interior designer Lauren Ferrand of Ferrand Designs, the interior at Rêve’s 1477 Louisiana Ave. offices was transformed into a comfortable and chic workspace designed for collaboration.
The 2,700-square-foot building serves as home base to Rêve’s 83 employees. With the help of contractor Jon Drennan and interior designer Lauren Ferrand of Ferrand Designs, the interior was transformed into a comfortable and chic workspace designed for collaboration. “Working within an existing building, it was challenging to redefine space to meet our needs, but with an experienced and creative design team, we were able to achieve our goal,” said Joey Walker, partner and co-broker. “The building is midcentury in style and features lots of glass looking out to the live oaks of the Garden District. Ferrand Designs did a great job highlighting the beautiful views and filling the office with natural light.” Walker said the company works with a diverse client base of buyers and sellers on everything from starter homes to Garden District mansions and commercial properties throughout greater New Orleans. To set the company apart, he said lead-
AT A GLANCE BUSINESS NAME
Rêve Realtors LOCATIONS
1477 Louisiana Ave., Suite 101 NUMBER OF YEARS IN BUSINESS
2 DATE OF OPENING CURRENT LOCATION
March 6, 2019 SQUARE FOOTAGE
2,700 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES
83 PEOPLE IN CHARGE
Clint LaCour, partner; Tracey Moore, partner and co-broker; Joey Walker, partner and co-broker; Ryan Wentworth, partner CONTRACTOR
Jon Drennan of J.W. Drennan LLC INTERIOR DESIGNER
The company promotes collaboration and its agents share in the philosophy for success. “This culture of sharing naturally creates a positive and dynamic work atmosphere,” said Joey Walker, partner and cobroker at Rêve.
Lauren Ferrand of Ferrand Designs FURNISHINGS AND ART
Furniture by AOS; Art by Ellen Macomber and Amanda Talley; plants by FAIT NOLA
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
ership creates and maintains relationships that emphasize the client-and-agent experience. “It is not just about closing the deal,” said Walker. “Rêve is devoted to the well-being of our clients, agents and the larger New Orleans community.” When it comes to Rêve’s employees, Walker said the company promotes collaboration and that the agents share in the company’s philosophy for success. “This culture of sharing naturally creates a positive and dynamic work atmosphere.” Over the next year, Walker said he and his partners at Rêve will continue to focus on growing the two-year-old company, best practices, innovative tools and agent recruitment, while overcoming the issues and restrictions brought forth by the pandemic. “The last few months have been challenging as we figured out how to navigate the new normal of real estate,” he said. “Working together, we have managed to not only survive in this new world, but we are thriving — Rêve Agents have managed to grow the office to No. 1 in sales volume in New Orleans.”n
“…It was challenging to redefine space to meet our needs, but working with an experienced and creative design team we were able to achieve our goal,” said Walker. “The building is midcentury in style and features lots of glass looking out to the live oaks of the Garden District. Ferrand Designs did a great job highlighting the beautiful views and filling the office with natural light.”
FROM THE LENS WHY DIDN’ T I THINK OF THAT ?
HGTV in the House Among the popular network’s newest shows, “Selling the Big Easy” stars local luxury residential Realtor Brittany Picolo-Ramos BY ASHLEY MCLELLAN
Brittany PicoloRamos, Realtor and co-owner of Godwyn & Stone Real Estate, stars in HGTV’s latest home buying hit, “Selling the Big Easy.” Each week, Picolo-Ramos guides potential home buyers through the unique and colorful New Orleans market with her own brand of Crescent City style.
NEW ORLEANS IS THE SETTING FOR YET
another TV show — this time one that highlights the city’s luxury housing market. On September 11, HGTV debuted the first few episodes of “Selling the Big Easy,” which follows New Orleans native and high-end realtor Brittany Picolo-Ramos and her team
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
at Godwyn & Stone Real Estate as they assist buyers in finding their dream home and help sellers stage their homes for top dollar. Picolo-Ramos said her shot at small screen fame came about by chance while was doing what she does best, being her true self with a client.
I do very well in New Orleans, I don’t think I would be successful in maybe another place. In New Orleans we want people to be real.
“I was just showing a property to a client and talking about my family, about my grandmother working at Royal Sonesta, lots of stories,” Picolo-Ramos said. “[The client] said, ‘You really love this city.’ She said, ‘You are hilarious,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, yes I am.’ She said I should have my own show. She had a production company and she put things into works. It has been a twoyear process.” Thirteen episodes of the show have been filmed, all of which will be available on demand on HGTV Go. For Picolo-Ramos, it was important that “Selling the Big Easy” showed HGTV’s millions of viewers — the network reaches over 75 million households — more than just the typical sights of the French Quarter and Garden District. Viewers will see homes and neighborhoods from throughout the region, including Metairie, the Westbank and the Northshore. For Picolo-Ramos, being in front of the camera came naturally, while her real estate career was slower in development in the beginning. “My sister is a real estate agent in Nashville. I have ‘little sister syndrome,’ and as a little sister didn’t want to be anything like her, since I was always being compared to her,” she said. “I thought it was all about wearing a blazer or a suit. I had a picture in my head. I like to make people laugh. I didn’t think I fit the mold. I was working at a telecommunication company when I hurt my back. I was standing on my feet for 8 to 10 hours a day. A relative with a real estate agency called, and I asked if I could work with her.” After delving into the real estate business in 2013, Picolo-Ramos swiftly become a top selling agent with a dedicated client list. She teamed up in business with her husband, Marco, in 2015 and the pair quickly garnered more than $14 million in sales their first year. The two branched out in 2019 and created Godwyn & Stone Real Estate. Godwyn & Stone currently has a team of 11 agents and three full-time administrators, with more new hires soon to be added. In each episode, Picolo-Ramos, along with members from her team, present a selection of homes within the client’s budget, with the viewer getting the chance to follow along with the selection process, and while also getting glimpses into the unique homes and personality of the city of New Orleans With “Selling the Big Easy,” and other shows like it, HGTV programming is taking advantage of an unexpectedly
booming market both locally and nationally. According to a recent report from Realtor. com, lower mortgage rates are making homeownership more affordable, as buyers are drawn to the idea of getting more bang for their buck. Mortgages at a 30-year fixed interest rate averaged 3.57% in the first quarter of 2020, down from 4.62% in 2019. According to Picolo-Ramos, those national rates have also been reflected in home buying and selling in New Orleans as well. “With the interest rates, we have seen a huge boom right now, which was unexpected,” she said. “March, April and May are usually busy, except for this year. But since then, we have had record months in July and August. The market is awesome. People can afford to get more for their money.” While COVID-19 has had a negative impact on many businesses, the real estate industry has evolved and adapted to the pandemic, with agents employing all of the recommended safety guidelines, and taking advantage of virtual tours and social media. “We are very conscious,” Picolo-Ramos said. “We use gloves, masks, social distancing and offer virtual tours. Social media is huge with real estate. It allows the real estate agent to connect direct to the consumer and allows [the client] to get to know the agent personally. You can see what their interests are, and if you have something in common. [Buying a home is] very personal.” In addition to making a personal connection, Picolo-Ramos noted that her job is to be more than just an agent in order to find out what home is the right fit for her clients. She said she has to do a lot of hand-holding, sees a lot of emotion, gives hugs freely (before COVID-19) and sometimes has to act as an impromptu therapist. “I do very well in New Orleans; I don’t think I would be successful in maybe another place,” she said. “In New Orleans we want people to be real. We have been through a lot. We want real people with real solutions. I’ve felt a temptation to be more ‘professional,’ but I want people to meet the real me. Buying and selling properties is one of the most vulnerable things. If they see me as a real person, I can open them up and find out what they really need and solve the problem. In the end, I’m an advocate for the people and I have to be honest.” According to Picolo-Ramos, New Orleans buyers most often buy according to their own personal affection for their neighborhood and are willing to overlook any small
With the interest rates, we have seen a huge boom right now, which was unexpected. The market is awesome. People can afford to get more for their money.
imperfections, while out-of-town buyers are often looking for amenities that are trickier to find in historic homes. “[Finding the right fit] depends on the neighborhood and the buyers,” she said. “In the Bywater they want color, high ceilings, walkability. In Uptown it’s more classic, historic, grandiose. In Metairie it’s more suburban, with an open kitchen and living room. Every little area within an area has its own little funky vibe. People that grew up here have more forgiveness than people from out of town. If there’s a creak in the floor, it’s OK. If they’re from out-of-town, they might say, ‘I like the vibe, but I want a more open concept.’ Well, it’s a historic property built
100 years ago — you can’t always have an open concept. But, people are still moving to New Orleans. It’s shocking in a good way. The cool thing about New Orleans is it’s not going anywhere. We’ve been here forever. We are always going to preserve it and fight for it.” While “Selling the Big Easy” is still in its first season, Picolo-Ramos hopes for a second and an opportunity to showcase more of the city, more unique properties and all that New Orleans has to offer. “It’s up to the network, of course,” she said. “But I hope that it is going to evolve. I hope people interact and tell us what they want and what they want to see.” n
ACCORDING TO REALTOR.COM Mortgage rates - Average 3.2% throughout the year, 2.9% by end of year Up 1.1% Existing Home Median Sales Price Appreciation 64.6% Homeownership Rate New Orleans, Metairie July 2020 Housing Trends: 72 Median days on market $315,050 Median listing price
PUBLISHERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S NOTICE: All real estate advertised herein is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Ace and the Louisiana Open Housing Act, which make it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination. We will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. For more information, call the Louisiana Attorney Generalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Office at 1-800-273-5718.
BIZ NEW ORLEANS
FROM THE LENS ON THE JOB
Beautiful Bends In business for 45 years, Attenhofer’s Stained Glass Studio has been bringing light to life through gorgeous creations showcased in residential, commercial and religious buildings throughout the region. PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
WHETHER USED TO TELL A STORY, OR SIMPLY TO ADD TO THE
beauty of a home or business, stained glass is an artform artisans spend years learning and perfecting. Seen here, Elise Thomas, an artist at Attenhofer’s who apprenticed under owner Cynthia Courage, uses a premium metal called Colonial Zinc to craft one of two doors for a home in New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood. Thomas uses a green sponge to periodically cool the tip of her 800-degree iron while she solders. Attenhofers.com. n