With the help of an FHA loan and $5,000 dollars from my folks for the downpayment, I was able to by my first little piece of New Orleans. This is where I would plant my flag, and grow from there. At the time I was single without a care in the world, so it didn't matter to me that I was surrounded by blight and in a rough neighborhood. After all, Matt Schwartz and his company, Domain Companies, were in the process of constructing the Crescent Club directly adjacent to my newly acquired. Surely he knew what he was doing. The hospitals were slated to be built within the next few years. It didn't matter to me that the rest of the neighborhood looked lifeless, and frightening. My friends thought I was crazy for buying, and living here. But I have always believed in Tulane Avenue. I had to believe in it. And though blighted, the housing stock consisted of mostly beautiful and historic architecture. One only needs the slightest of imagination to envision what the neighborhood could look like.
But while I was under contract with Gayoso, I met my wife. Things got serious. I asked her to move-in. She was terrified. And rightfully so. I decided to get us (her) a dog. I didn't want to alarm her further, so I told her I wanted a dog since I just bought my first house. But truth be told it was for her. In fact I don't know if she knows that to this day. We named the dog Gayoso, after our street.
To my wife's credit, she believed in me, my ambitions, my vision. She became my biggest supporter. Together, we were able to get the city to demolish the property next door using FEMA funds since both legally and physically it was in imminent danger of collapse. On to the next one. We then hunted the property owner for the abandoned white house next door to the one recently demolished. After a year and a half of persisting and pleading with the owners to either renovate or sell their property, they sold it to us. We went to work!
Initially built and used as a neighborhood corner store, this property is full of history and character. We have dubbed it the "Big Purple".
We had successfully cleaned up our street, but it was time to turn the corner; literally. The 3000 block of Baudin sadly had half of the properties blighted or vacant. We continued pushing, and purchased three doubles next to each other, from the same owner, that were vacant. The three doubles can be seen below.
I am proud to say that as of 2015 there are no vacant properties on the block. We have been told my neighbors and property owners that we gave them an incentive to renovate their properties and to put them back in commerce. From my standpoint, this experience represents social entrepreneurship and investing at its finest.
To see more from this block, check out the gallery below.