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A measure of recovery

Recovery statistics: Royal Orleans hotel room has almost doubled in price since Katrina.

It is infrequent that I peruse my old documents, but this morning found me scrolling through a folder labeled “old,” containing fragments, outlines, and unfinished written works. Among them was a file, “New Orleans will be back,” written on September 25, 2005, one month after Hurricane Katrina.

Within the file, I discovered a hastily-prepared outline for an article that was never written.  Structured to cover a half-dozen topics, the outline contained all the reasons my mind could gather to save the submerged city, condensed to a couple of pages. What inspired the outline was the chilling notion in Washington and other parts of the country that questioned spending the money to save and rebuild New Orleans. Some didn’t give a damn if New Orleans sank a few more feet into Lake Pontchartrain.

More cared than not, however, and seven years later the target of recovery has been met in major areas. My own economic survey reveals encouraging trends in tourism and real estate.

As a visitor, my attention to hotel rates is constant. Comparing today’s rates with those of a few years back is a logical reflection of supply and demand, and the results are indicative of prosperity.

In 2006, our room at the Omni Royal Orleans for Mardi Gras weekend was $199 per night for a tiny room. Checking the 2013 Mardi Gras rates, I find the same room for $389 per night.  Similarly, in 2008, our room at the Royal Sonesta was $349, and for 2013 the room demands $479 for the night.

New Orleans food critic Tom Fitzmorris maintains a vigil over the realm of restaurants in New Orleans and vicinity, and his current tally indicates that there are today substantially more restaurants operating than before Katrina.

In my quest to become a part-time resident, I have tracked the real estate market for condominiums meeting my specific criteria, hoping to catch a bargain. My reluctance to buy that pied a terre now haunts me, for the properties I thought pricey in 2010 would have been a solid investment today.

Only a year is needed to survey the growth of the real estate market within my focused group of condos.  For example:

At the end of 2011, there were 15 units for sale in the French Quarter meeting my requirements, six in the Marigny, and nine in the Garden District, for a total of 30 available units.  This morning’s list shows only three units existing in the French Quarter, two in the Marigny, and seven in the Garden District, for a total of 12 available units. Prices seem to be escalating in concert with the growing demand.

Paying the price is a matter of choice for a visitor, electing to either pay, or go elsewhere.   Today the visitors are visiting, and they are paying the price. As the calendar turns a page, the makings of a prosperous New Year appear to be firmly in place for my favorite city.  Though it will cost a few bucks more than last time, I am impatient to await my next trip.