15 August 2009 ~ Comments Off on Sale of Road Home Properties Draws Crowd

Sale of Road Home Properties Draws Crowd


By Katy Reckdahl, The Times-Picayune
August 15, 2009, 8:35PM

A young physician and her father arrived at Saturday’s auction at the Joseph H. Yenni Building in Elmwood hoping to buy a lot near East Jefferson General Hospital.

Numerous residents of Maple Ridge Park showed up in case lots in their subdivision turned out to sell for bargain prices.

A soon-to-be-married couple eyed properties in central Metairie, close to their families.

Many left empty-handed.

Dr. Ka-Tan Tong, who just finished her family-practice residency, made early bids on three lots in the Pontchartrain Gardens and Pontchartrain Shores subdivisions. But she left quickly as the bidding on the last of the properties she had hoped to buy topped $90,000. “It’s just a lot. You still have to build a house,” she said, shaking her head.

There were some steals to be had at Saturday’s auction, the first open-market sale of Road Home properties in Louisiana. But many bids were higher than predicted.

All told, the auction’s revenue total of more than $4 million was about 10 percent to 20 percent higher than expected, said Mike Taylor, director of the Louisiana Land Trust, the nonprofit corporation created by the state to hold the storm-ravaged Road Home properties purchased from homeowners after Hurricane Katrina.

Winning bids ranged widely. Tiny lots or ones with less desirable locations went for several thousand dollars. But prices for empty lots in Maple Ridge soared to $90,000 or more, higher than many had expected, including neighborhood resident Christine Vinson and her husband, Darrin Piotrowski, who had predicted prices closer to $60,000.

Vinson waved at dozens of neighbors including Adam and Kat Kraus, who walked past them, grimacing good-naturedly at being outbid for the lot next to their home on Maple Ridge Drive.

“I figured we’d get squeezed out by a contractor,” said Adam Kraus, who explained that the couple had opted not to participate in the Lot Next Door program because of prices that didn’t seem to differentiate between corner and midblock properties and “too many restrictions,” including a requirement that the lot can’t be sold without penalty for at least five years.

In all, the auction sold 87 of the 147 parcels in Jefferson Parish that were purchased by the state after Katrina.

Of the remaining 60, some can’t change hands until a required environmental review is complete, Taylor said. Also, about 10 parcels were already sold through the Lot Next Door program, and about 40 will be redeveloped by the parish or municipalities and sold as low-cost housing to qualifying households, Taylor said.

Proceeds from Saturday’s auction will be funneled back to Jefferson Parish for projects eligible for Community Development Block Grant money, he said.

For the auction’s more than 500 registered bidders, the Maple Ridge properties were clearly a leading draw. The bidding began with auctioneer Dave Gilmore announcing, “And here’s what you’ve been waiting for.” And within minutes after Gilmore hollered “Sold!” for the last Maple Ridge address, hundreds left the crammed Jefferson Parish Council chamber, creating open seats for the first time all day.

But Huey and Kathy Cheramie left happy after investing in a Maple Ridge lot that backs onto their adjoining subdivision.

Julia Harris also walked out beaming. She and fiance Scott Werner had just made a winning $92,000 bid for a lot on Lemon Street in the Pontchartrain Shores subdivision. Harris, a real estate agent, and Werner, a contractor, had teamed up to determine land values and construction costs at several sites, including the sought-after Maple Ridge properties, all of which had been bid past their $90,000 limit.

Their winning bid was $2,000 higher than they budgeted, and the two were nervous as they made it, Harris said.

Still, she was pleased. The lot is just off West Esplanade Avenue, “where all of our family lives,” she said. Also, it’s a corner lot, with a school across the street.

Harris mentally estimated closing and construction time. Within six months, she said, the couple could be living in a newly built home on Lemon Street.

“We did our homework, and it worked out for us,” she said.

3316 Florida Ave. Suite 201 • Kenner, Louisiana 70065 USA
Phone (504) 468-6800 •Fax (504) 468-6811

Broker: David E. Gilmore
Licensed By The Louisiana Real Estate Commission
Licensed in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma
A Division of Gilmore-Braud Companies

Auctioneer: David E. Gilmore
Licensed in: Alabama #1832 • Arkansas #1979 • Louisiana #0447
Mississippi #378/641F • Texas #11136

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