Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Orleans tax rolls lose $45 million worth of property due to LSU/VA project

From a chilling caption in today's Times-Picayune:

About $45 million worth of real estate fell off the tax roll this year because of the clearing of more than 70 acres in Mid-City to make way for a new state teaching hospital and a new federal hospital for veterans.

Think not only of that figure.  Think of how much room that overall value figure had to grow based on the fact that many of the properties in the Footprint were still revitalizing and coming back online after the storm when they were stopped cold by a 2007 city-imposed building and repair moratorium.

More importantly, think of that figure multiplied by five years of non-collection.  By 10 years.  By 50 years.  The lost revenue to a city that is repeatedly facing budgetary problems and a shrunken population has been exacerbated by the LSU/VA project, and it's a problem that will compound over time.  And this staggering loss will happen despite the fact that the state owns Charity Hospital as we speak, which could have prevented the destruction of a great many of the Lower Mid-City taxable parcels involved.

The Assessor's comments about some compensation from the increased value of properties nearby along Tulane Avenue offer little consolation.  Their ultimate values depend on the project being completed - and the UMC hospital does not have the resources necessary at this time - years after it should have had its ducks in a row.  The values along Tulane Avenue come with built in speculative risks.  And they're built on the backs of people who wrongly had their properties expropriated for projects that took more land than they needed - because sprawling, mid-rise suburban-style designs were insisted upon.

There's also the fact that some of the property owners who had their properties seized still have not been compensated.  I just received an email last night from one former VA property owner who told me "And no I never got paid for my house on Palmyra.... Yet."

Yet another glaring example of how bull-headed, destructive, and short-sighted this project has been from the start...rears its head.

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