Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Two questions answered, one big question unanswered

I wondered what the mayor was talking about when I heard him say
Downtown office occupancies are the highest they’ve been since the 70s oil and gas boom.

I don't get downtown often, but when I made the walk from the Tulane Medical Center to the streetcar stop one day recently, I was shocked by the number of vacant buildings in that part of the CBD, including this one. It turns out, as the WWL report explained, that the number of empty buildings leads, of course, to less office space, which leads to higher occupancy rates. In other words, and this really is a good one, Mayor Bozo was bragging about the number of vacant buildings.

Cynthia Hedge-Morrell made some very good points in a recent letter to the editor about the proposed airport sale ownership transfer with compensation. The underlying question was, "what's the rush?" The answer to that was obvious. Tonight we found out why Nagin was coy about the deal:
He doesn't support the proposed creation of a new agency with mayoral and gubernatorial appointees to control the funds that would go to the city as part of the deal. Instead, he wants the existing New Orleans Building Corp., which is comprised of the mayor, his appointees and City Council members, to handle the funds.

Since Juan LaFonta and Ray Nagin have always been close, and Nagin and Sean Cummings this is interesting:
After flying through the state House, a bill that could force Sean Cummings to resign as head of the New Orleans Building Corporation is awaiting changes that could strengthen its chances of survival in the Senate.
"I'm not going to do a bill just for Sean Cummings, but I do think he is someone with a unique position," LaFonta said. "I want it to apply to that group, and I want it to apply to all those who will derive an economic benefit from the decisions that (the building corporation) makes."

Have Nagin and Cummings had a falling out, or have LaFonta and Nagin had a falling out? Or is something else going on?

Occupany Rates are higher but the amount of space is far smaller. A significant number of building have been converted or are being converted to other uses.

Pere Marquette, American Bank Building, Maison Blanche, (25 Common, 210 O'Keefe, Fidelity Homestead, Commerce Building, Queen and Crecent plus a lot of smaller buildings.
The buildings being converted don't bother me as much the ones that are just empty and boarded up. The ones being converted don't bother me at all, except for the mayor's use of distorted numbers. It's galling though that he'd use to essentially abandoned buildings to make the case that the city's booming. I don't think that any offices in the Plaza Tower count as vacant when it comes to figuring occupancy rates.
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