By Carmen Roxanna (New Orleans, LA) – A New Orleans appraiser anticipates that the first bid on a Gordon Plaza residence will arrive next week. Sheena Dedmond, a resident of Gordon Plaza and member of the city council’s relocation task committee, offered to have Jim Thorn, a New Orleans contractor, appraise her 2,800 square foot property, prepare a city offer, and present it to the group on Friday, Oct. 21 at City Hall. The size of the homes and lots in the neighborhood varies, but the offer would provide an example of Thorn’s present approach and what it may produce for other Gordon Plaza property owners. Residents said they haven’t been healthy despite cleanup efforts and have pushed the city for relocation for decades. Residents are now more within reach of a city-funded relocation than ever thanks to intensified efforts over the last two years.
Gordon Plaza, which has 67 houses and is situated in the Desire district, is the final neighborhood to be settled on the former site of the Agriculture Street landfill. Press Park, a senior living community, and an elementary school were all originally located in the vicinity but were all evacuated during Hurricane Katrina. Within a decade of acquiring houses in the 1980s in a community that was marketed as inexpensive housing for Black families, residents started to experience the negative health repercussions of living there. The Gordon Plaza subdivision was built over the site of a former landfill, and by 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency had classified it as one of the most toxic Superfund sites in the nation. Because potential buyouts on the open market would fall far short of what is required for residents to leave, it is estimated that residents would not be able to leave. Instead, the locals have repeatedly demanded that the replacement cost approach to evaluation be applied. Appraisers frequently employ the sales comparison approach, which involves comparing the value of a property to other recently sold, comparable properties. However, they can also estimate depending on how much it would cost to build the house from the ground up or to rebuild it.
The locals contended that the replacement cost or building cost measure would produce figures that were more in line with what their homes would be valued if they weren’t built on poisonous soil. The Superfund site will be turned into a renewable energy park, and Cantrell’s administration intends to buy out the residents in the process. The City Council allocated $35 million to the project in late June. Residents attending stated Mayor Latoya Cantrell said that if property owners agreed to $245,000 apiece, her administration might deliver the cash “next week” at a meeting with the charity Residents of Gordon Plaza, Inc. on September 2. Reportedly as of August 2019, it was the locals’ first encounter with Cantrell. Disputes between locals and the Cantrell administration on how to value houses have been ongoing for almost four months. The Gordon Plaza community was constructed over the top of a dump, therefore estimating prospective buyouts from the open market would be significantly below what would be required for people to leave. Instead, the locals have repeatedly demanded that the replacement cost approach to evaluation be applied. Appraisers frequently employ the sales comparison approach, which involves comparing the value of a property to other recently sold, comparable properties. However, they can also estimate depending on how much it would cost to build the house from the ground up or to rebuild it. The residents argued that the replacement or construction cost metric would yield results closer to what their homes would be worth if they weren’t located on toxic soil.
Visit gordonplaza.com to learn more about the ongoing efforts in support of the residents of Gordon Plaza.