Squandered Heritage Vintage

the story of one house that is the story of many…

UPDATE The City said the owner may be fined for the debris. Also the house will be on the agenda for Nov 17th NCDC“demolition” hearing.

This house has seen a slow decline.

Debi does Apple

The above photo was taken about a year and a half ago ago. We had heard that the house had been through the administrative adjudication process. As we understood it the owner had been declared guilty. The next step would have been a signed order and then the process of expropriation. That, in theory is what should have happened.

But what happened is..nothing. The City never signed the papers and the owner continued to let it fester.

Until New Years Eve..when there was a fire at the house.

Apple Street

I would also like to add here that a number of Neighbors approached the owner and made offers on the house. The offers exceeded the value of the lot. And at the same time the homeowner was trying to get a Free Fema funded demolition. And when I say Free I mean free to him, “we” the taxpayers pay for it.

He was denied the free demo because the damage to the house was a direct result of pre Katrina negligence, and the agreement between the City and FEMA is theoretically to only fund Katrina damaged demolitions.

So to recap..he is trying to create a vacant lot, is pretending to sell the house to avoid a blight judgment but when offered money for it he declines.

Last week he started to destroy the house to demolish it.

8117 Apple

As you can see all the windows have been removed and the chimneys demolished in order to further the destruction. The contents which have sat there for 3 years discarded and left on the lawn. Now I would like to add the house next door is occupied by a very elderly couple. Does this seem criminal to you? It does to me. Would you want to live on this block?

We have asked Winston Reid the director of Code Enforcement and Dr. Ed Blakley our recovery Czar. We have asked our Councilperson and our our At Large Council people. And no one responds. Not a polite “we will look into it” or even “thanks for your concern” nothing, nothing, nothing….

Our frustration with the City increases daily. I have sat in the Code Enforcement hearings where they have fined people who have missing pieces of weatherboard or unpainted exterior surfaces on their houses. This selective and farcical code enforcement ignores the larger issues we have here. This owner has been warned and it meant nothing. I challenge any of our elected officials to look us in the eye and say that this house is acceptable and or that there is nothing they can do about it. The excuses of the past 3 years continue on as many wonder what our own personal breaking point will be.

The City has abandoned us and forgot the basic tenants of governance. And the scary news is that this same owner has 2 other non gutted houses just down the block. He continues unabated. And we continue to be ignored.

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • That is truly unacceptable and disgusting. What a pity to waste a potentially beautiful old house.

    I feel sorry for his neighbors.

  • I’m sure the house next door is on the demolition list.

    The city must be using google maps street view for inspections. For those who do not know, the pictures tend to be one or two houses off from the actual address.

  • Do you think City inspectors know about the internet?

    This sorry situation is being played out all over the City. Good thing the old folks next door stay home for the most part, it will be easier to ward off the bulldozer when it shows up on the wrong block.

  • Jen


    I am new to the city, and new to the demolition process here, but I am just wondering what is in it for the owner? What does he perceive as the benefit of demolishing the house (even for free) over selling it for a profit?

  • I think some people don’t want to give up the lot. Sentimental ties to it I suppose. In this case I think the owner just has no respect for the neighborhood and thinks he may be able to convert it to a parking lot.

  • Delta

    Baby steps are still steps! At least you have gotten some sort of update to post and the house is now on the agenda.

  • debi

    I am INSENSED that after this long, (and let’s remember that even before Katrina this house had boards falling off of it, paint peeling, one side was buckling, the roof was in disrepair and the lot was a shambles) we are FINALLY getting an “the owner may be sighted for debris????”…the owner should be jailed and the other 4 properties in our hood (2 of which he is trying to demo now and are viable housing!), should be sold out from under him!!! Is he up on his property taxes???? Does he maintain any of his properties???? As Karen said, other homeowners abutting his property have tried to buy it but he leaves it in this condition and won’t sell. We are not looking for another vacant lot in this neighborhood so being on the agenda for possible demo is NOT the answer.

  • unbelievable

    It is amazing how messed up the City’s IHT list continues to be.

    The latest IHT expropropriation for demo list includes 5640 Burgundy, one of the ninth ward Prospect 1 art installation sites. http://www.flickr.com/photos/liprap/3013578025/in/set-72157608632174371/

    What other government job can you have where you screw up regularly, are totally out of touch, ignore taxpayers but keep getting paid?

  • People like that confound me. We had a similar situation with a house on our street. Owner did nothing, wouldn’t sell. Finally he was pressured by City Hall to do something the summer before Katrina. Of course he did nothing else after Katrina. He finally, after years, sold it and it has now been renovated. I was amaze the house didn’t blow over in any of the storms. It looks great now.