I was itching to ride my bike today in the lovely weather–overcast and a touch windy, humid and thick–and decided to head down to the CBD to run an errand or two. I passed this building after taking a right on Poydras, headed to my first visit to the Riverwalk mall. The building is collapsing on itself but displaying a picture of its future “redefining luxury in New Orleans.” Most cities I’ve lived in lately have some version of this futural luxury that in the present seems exceedingly unlikely. In Hartford, CT, the decimated downtown is home to new condominiums that don’t make any sense given the depressed surroundings. In Boise, ID, part of the downtown has been rebuilt as BODO (BOise DOwntown) and condos are for sale on top of the parking lot that serves the shopping center. In Emeryville, CA, some developers actually put condominiums on top of a new pedestrian mall. I never could understand how anyone could live at the mall. But perhaps this is the final realization of the American dream? Oakland, CA hosts luxury condos around Lake Merritt, with the motto, “Live Above It All.” I guess somebody–I have trouble imagining who–will live “above it all” here in the still-partially decimated CBD. Is it really true that if you build it they will come? I guess we’ll find out. In the meantime, given strict historical preservation rules, this building probably can’t be torn down, but it can be allowed to fall down. We’ll just have to wait and see, those of us who make up the all whom will be lived above.
and i’m so grateful you’re here so that we can be lived above together.
Emeryville is a crazy place. I stayed in an abandoned factory there once, trying to catch trains, and it was such an odd place to find this huge squat — amid the hotels and the malls and the Trader Joe’s.