Lakeshore Drive in Mandeville, Louisiana, is home to many historic homes, newly renovated homes, and even turned homes – homes that have been fixed up and are now being sold.  In addition to the many beautiful French Acadian,

Colonial, and Creole Cottage floorplans, there are many different businesses, mostly restaurants and bars, located along this gorgeous lakefront property.  While most residents were thrilled with the restoration and renovation of the Rest Awhile Hotel on the Old Mandeville lakefront, many are now having reservations as to the direction that the developer / builder wants to take with this commercial property.

Developer and owner Barrett McGuire has plans to turn not only the main structure of the Rest Awhile Retreat into a restaurant / tavern but also to relocate the two historic cottages on the property in proximity to the main building in order to connect all three buildings together with a large outdoor deck with seating areas.  The two cottages associated with the renovation are called the Hadden Cottage and the Sophie B. Wright Cottage.  These two commercial construction structures would be taverns (mainly wine and cheese bars).  The square footage of the entire remodel including the outdoor seating areas will be 9,000 square feet.  The main commercial kitchen will be located in the center structure which used to be the Frapart Hotel.

During a Mandeville Planning & Commission Meeting, developer McGuire tried to address all reasonable concerns of Old Mandeville residents, mainly fire safety and parking.  To solve the parking dilemma which is always a dilemma on Lakeshore Drive, the new restaurant / tavern will have 30 onsite parking spaces, and the commercial renovation will be allowed 19 lakefront parking spaces as well – a total of 49, which is 4 more than is required by the zoning.  The lot is zoned “B-3 mixed use,” which includes restaurants and bars, so the Planning Commission now just has discretionary decision making about the influence of the newly renovated property on the adjacent homeowners.
Homeowners are worried about flooding on Lakeshore Drive during a hurricane, such as the fires that destroyed commercial properties and residential homes.  Fire fighters were not able to get down the streets to take care of the fires because of flooding.  However, McGuire plans to install additional fire safety equipment, buffers around the remodel to shield the property from the houses surrounding as well as fire sprinklers throughout all three structures.  The proposal was tabled with the Planning Commission until a future unknown date.  The renovation will continue with reinforcing and rebuilding the existing structure until then.

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It is now in the hands of the St. Tammany Parish Planning Commission to resolve the tension between the current 137-willow-exterior-2homeowners of Willow Bend and the developer Henry Billiot, an officer of Reiher LLC concerning a new subdivision which he will develop and build just north of Bootlegger Road on the east side of Willow Bend.  The controversy concerns the use of the road Willow Bend Drive to access the new subdivision which has been named The Willows.  Residents of Willow Bend feel that by using the same entry road as their subdivision that consumers will view the new neighborhood as a new phase of the same subdivision, thereby decreasing home values in Willow Bend.  The new community The Willows will offer 25 lots for sale with sizes ranging from roughly 9,000 to 18,000 square feet which will accommodate homes ranging from 1,650 to 2,200 square feet.  The price point for the community will be $250,000 – $400,000 where Willow Bend Subdivision has homes ranging in price from $300,000 – $800,000.

willows-site-plan

The St. Tammany Parish Zoning Commission approved a zoning change for the land being developed from I-2 (Industrial District) and A-2 (Suburban District) to A-3 (Suburban District).  Commissioner Bill Matthews noted thatLot 52, Willow Bend some of the land for The Willows is currently zoned for industrial development. “Having an industrial park a few hundred yards away would not do your home values any good,” he told residents of Willow Bend.  The Commission also approved a Planned Unit Development Overlay designation which will allow smaller lots, but 25% of the community must have an approved allowance for greenspace along with other requirements from the Planning Commission.

There was talk at the zoning meeting about widening Willow Bend Drive to accommodate the extra traffic, but it will be up to the Planning Commission to unsnarl the tangle of concern from the residents of Willow Bend and the new developer regarding the new subdivision being built in St. Tammany Parish.  Check back with Ron Lee Homes to find out more about this story.  If you are interested in buying a new home or building a new home in Willow Bend, Contact Us Today to find out more about the new and custom homes for sale.  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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The month of October in the real estate industry typically is a slower month than other more productive months of the year.  There is a sharp rise in activity in the Greater New Orleans / St. Tammany Parish area during the months of January – June.  During the Recession, the summer months of July – September definitely were slower but still 002_mlsactive, and then as October, November, and December approached, the housing market in our area tapered off until the holidays.  Post Recession, we have seen phenomenal, record-breaking numbers for the months of July – September, and this year’s October was nothing to “sneeze about” in the South in general either according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

During the month of October, single-family starts rose 4.2%, the highest they have been since November, 2013.  This is really not a surprising trend in that with the atypical frenetic activity during the summer months, there would have been many more signed contracts for new, single-family homes than is normal for that time of year, which would translate to early fall starts for new homes.  In addition to the sharp increase in housing starts, Total overall housing production for both single-family and multi-family homes rose 10.1% in the South, even though multi-family production was off slightly and brought the numbers down in all other regions of the United States (Northeast, Midwest, and West).

011_mlsIn the other regions of the United State, the recovery from the Recession has progressed a bit slower than for the Greater New Orleans area.  In fact, local employment statistics show that New Orleans’ unemployment rate has been dropping faster than the national average.  Even with this information, a 10.1% increase compared to a decrease in all other markets is a good sign for the economy and housing market in the South. Overall, building permits for single-family homes in October increased 1.4%, and building permits for both single-family and multi-family homes rose in the South by 8.8%.  St. Tammany Parish has also had record-breaking months for single-family home permits recently as well.

Business is booming for Ron Lee Homes on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain in St. Tammany Parish.  We have been so busy that we have been asking our valued clients to be patient with our building schedule because of the overabundance of business.  The construction and building industries’ gain is also a gain for the economy.  According to the National Association of Home Builders, the following statistics show the impact of the housing market on the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – the measure of the United States’ economy.

Information regarding building an average of 1,000 single-family homes:

• Creates 2,970 full-time jobs
• Brings in $162 million in wages
• Merits $118 million in business income
• Achieves $111 million in taxes and revenue for state, local and federal governments

“The rise in single-family starts is more proof that the economy is firming and consumer confidence is growing,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “We expect continued upward momentum into next year.”

To Get More Information about building a new custom home in St. Tammany Parish with Ron Lee Homes, Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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Based on building permit data, price information, and employment statistics, monitored metro areas and smaller towns are running at 90% of what is considered a normal housing economy according to the National Assocation of Home Builders / First American Leading Market Index (LMI).  The LMI was established during the Recession to monitor the recovery of a selection of markets throughout the United States from the catastrophic results of the Recession.  According to the numbers in November, 66% of these markets showed improvement and 7 new markets either returned to “normal” or exceeded normal activity and growth year-over-year.

“The markets are recovering at a slow, gradual pace,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “Continued job creation, economic growth and increasing consumer confidence should help spur pent-up demand for housing.”

The top market in the list of the 350 select markets chosen by the NAHB is Baton Rouge, Louisiana which has already returned to normal activity and is now exceeding all expections.  The LMI score for Baton Rouge is 1.39 which means that it is 39% better in housing growth and employment than its normal market levels.  In the list of the top ten markets which have LMI scores that either meet or exceed normal levels, New Orleans is also included in that list, making Southeast Louisiana a “booming” recovery zone when it comes to real estate.

“An uptick in the number of single-family permits, which is currently only 44 percent of normal activity, is the key to a full-fledged housing recovery,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “In the 17 metros where permits are at or above normal, the overall index shows that these markets have fully recovered.”

Luckily, building permits overall rose 1.4% nationwide and are up 8.8% in the South.  A testimony to how well the Greater New Orleans area is doing economically is the fact that the unemployment rate nationally is at 6.1%, in New Orleans it’s 5.1%, and in the 2nd quarter of 2014, St. Tammany Parish’s unemployment rate dropped over 20% from 2013’s unemployment rate to just 4.4%.  Building permits in St. Tammany Parish rose to 315 for single-family homes in the 2nd quarter of 2014 which is a 23.5% increase year-over-year.  Also, new home sales went up by 11.1% year-over-year in the same quarter for St. Tammany Parish as well.  This speaks strongly as to how much real estate affects the economy, even locally in the Greater New Orleans area.  For More Information about building a new home in St. Tammany Parish, contact local builder Ron Lee Homes at 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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It seems that the faster that you keep up with the latest, state-of-the-art technology, the faster technology changes.  Builders both nationally and locally in St .Tammany Parish are learning very quickly that they either have to stay abreast of their knowledge of high-techn options and accessories for the new homes that they build, or they may lose potential home buying clients.  At Ron Lee Homes, there is a constant stream of education and educational courses

and seminars that are offered by the National Association of Home Builders, and both Ron Lee and Nancy Lee of Ron Lee Homes continually are attending these classes and courses in order to stay on the cutting edge of building technology.

Informational articles are also helpful to advise and inform both builders and home buyers alike about the latest trends in technology and how these trends affect the real estate market.  Below is a list of up and coming products that are being offered as high-tech accessories or necessities for new homes being built.

1. Lighting by Bluetooth: Technology has advanced so much that you can now build a network throughout your home where all of your lighting and light switches are on what is called a mesh network.  Each part of the network works off a node that “talks” to the other parts of the network, and the network can be accessed through Bluetooth and any smart device.  When using this network, you can install a new light switch by sticking a new plate to the wall by using double-sided tape if you would like.

2. Talk to Your Home: As you may or may not already know, there is technology out there that makes it so that you can control your thermostat, alarm system, lighting system, and garage door openers by using a smart device like a smart phone, tablet, or pad.  The systems are already “wired” or networked together and you can access them by using an app. The newest technology makes it so that you can use a language processor like Siri to “talk” to your home.  You simply speak the commands into your smart device, and then that device talks to the systems in your home.

3. Low Power Wifi: This is a fairly new development on the market . The idea behind this device which is a super long-lasting “battery” that has Wifi capability, is that it will “retrofit” existing features of your home which use batteries and turn them into “smart devices.”  One of the examples of this product is called the Roost.  The Roost is installed in your smoke detectors, and if smoke is detected, it sends a notification to your smart device.  This is just one of the many ways that such a device could be used to retrofit existing appliances and features of your home.

With technology moving, it seems sometimes, faster than the speed of light, it is the goal of Ron Lee Homes to stay on top of the latest trends and to be able to troubleshoot solutions to make the technology in the new custom home that you build with us user friendly for you and your family.  Contact Us Today to discuss your technology needs.  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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The Tammany Trace is a highly unique lifestyle feature that sets the St. Tammany Parish community apart from other parts of the Greater New Orleans area.  Originally part of the Illinois Central Railroad corridor, the tracks were removed and paved over to form a walking, running, and biking path as well as an equestrian track in some areas.

The Tammany Trace is dotted with trailheads in Mandeville, Covington, and Abita Springs in West St. Tammany as well as where the trace ends in East St. Tammany Parish in Slidell, Louisiana.  The total length of the trace is 28 miles long, and parts of extend as far southward as the Mandevillle lakefront.

Residents of St. Tammany Parish are able to use the trace for exercise and recreation for even beginning workout enthusiast because most of the trace is very flat and easy to navigate.  It winds through scenic areas of the parish offering a nature experience as well as a scenic tourist experience for those individuals visiting Southeast Louisiana.  The Tammany Trace is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and to highlight that occasion, officials are updating, repairing, and adding to the safety and directional aspects of the Trace.  The work includes replacing signage with brighter more modern signage to signal caution, stops, and yields.  They are adding warning signs and repainting the crosswalks on the major road crossing to try to make the Trace safer, and they are also lowering the speed limit from 20 MPH to 15 MPH for that same purpose.

In 2013, a $92,000 grant was awarded to the City of Slidell to take the trace all the way to the Neslo Road terminus, but new plans are the works to extend the Trace all the way to Heritage Park in the center of town.  In the spirit of expanding the Trace so that all residents of St. Tammany Parish can enjoy it, a feasibility study is currently being conducted to see what it will cost and take to lengthen the Tammany Trace to Highway 21 in Covington where it will then turn South to Madisonville to the other waterfront are of the Tchefuncte River.  St. Tammany Parish is located on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain directly across from the City of New Orleans.  For those home buyers who are wishing to relocate to the Greater New Orleans area, this parish is an ideal place to settle down with a family because of our amazing school districts, family lifestyle, and land-based and water-based recreational activity opportunities.  The Tammany Trace is just one way to spend time with your family while living in our community.  To learn more about building or buying a new home in St. Tammany Parish, Contact Ron Lee Homes at 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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The lakefront in Mandeville, Louisiana is an enchanting, charming location where tourists and residents gather to enjoy the walking / biking path, the children’s playgrounds and play areas, the seawall, the Lake Pontchartrain Yacht

Harbor and several selections of bars and restaurants that serve food, drink, and good company.  As visitors stroll, bike, or drive along the few miles of Lakeshore Drive, they will also notice the myriad of historic homes and renovated and raised homes along the way.  Many of these visitors don’t realize that these homes can be over 100 years old with roots dating back to before 1859.

One such location on the Mandeville lakefront is the Rest Awhile (sometimes called Rest A While).  This building, along with a few cottages that align the sides and back of the property, is located on a 180-by-506-foot tract of real estate.  Actually, one the cottages, which was constructed around 1859, was relocated to an adjacent lot and restored to its original Creole cottage aesthetic.  The Rest Awhile began as Frapart’s Hotel which had a restaurant, a grand dancing hall, and an architectural structure built to catch the cool breezes coming off of Lake Pontchartrain during the stifling hot summer months in the New Orleans area.  It

was owned by Edward Frapart and his wife, and during the 1880’s the landmark thrived as a destination location on the Northshore for vacationing New Orleanians.  In 1894, it was taken over because of bankruptcy, and sold to a private owner.  After 10 years, the building was donated to the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons, a New York based charity.  For nearly a century after that, it was operated as a safe haven for abused women, destitute women and children and orphans.

The building itself was still inhabitable and operational up until Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Unfortunately irreparable damage was done to the structure during the hurricane, and it was shut down.  However, this historic landmark now has a chance at a revival because it has been purchased by Barrett C. McGuire of McGuire Real Estate Group, LLC.  Work had begun to fortify the building because of the damage it sustained during the hurricane.  So far, the only plans for the building include raising and establishing the exterior structure.

“Columns and steel beams to support the raised structure will be added over the next few weeks, said McGuire, “The building’s elevation will be set at 12 feet, which meets FEMA Velocity Zone requirements,” he said.

historic-mandeville-lakefront

Many residents of Mandeville in St. Tammany Parish are anxious to see what is next for this treasured piece of real estate along the historic Mandeville lakefront.  Although, anything to maintain its historic value and renovate it to a better condition to prevent decay is a good start in the minds of most locals.

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After over 24 hours of steady rain and constant swirling wind that kept pushing water again and again against the Mandeville Lakefront shoreline, the walking and biking path bridge that currently spans the Ravine Aux Coquille adjacent to Lakeshore Drive in Old Mandeville is in need of repair from Hurricane Isaac’s effects. As part of the network of walking, biking, and riding paths that wind throughout the entire Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain – the Tammany Trace – this pedestrian bridge is a highly trafficked piece of real estate in the area and could be dangerous to residents and visitors alike if it were to fall into disrepair. Originally a corridor for the Illinois Central Railroad, the Tammany Trace is now a hike and bike trail that spans from downtown Covington, through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe and ends in Slidell. Also, a separate equestrian path parallels the Trace in several places.

That is where the Mandeville City Council comes in. The Council has just approved a contracted bid by Sealevel Construction Inc., of Thibodeaux for $235,964 to completely replace the bridge. Because the damage was incurred by Hurricane Isaac, 75% of the cost will be covered by FEMA funding. Residents of Old Mandeville are deeply

concerned about the implications of any construction that may be done in and around the lakefront area and for good reason. During the over 24 hours of rainfall during the hurricane, the Mandeville lakefront received over 4’ of water which stayed for the duration of the storm. The recently constructed downstairs bar of The Lakehouse,  originally a restaurant and casino built on the lakefront in the 1800’s, was completely demolished and swept away, leaving nothing but studs sticking out the floor where the bar once stood. And this is an “every time occurrence” for this location no matter what sort of structure is constructed on the bottom floor of the restaurant.

Because of this and other extensive lakefront flooding, such as the flooding of Fontainebleau Park and the renovation of the beach and facilities there, there is currently a study being performed by GEC Engineers to address and provide options for the problem of storm surge on the lakefront throughout St. Tammany Parish. To be on the safe side, Mandeville city engineer Henry DiFranco assured concerned citizens during the Council meeting that the bridge project would have no impact on GEC’s recommendations, but he said he would discuss the issue with the engineers before work began on the bridge.

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Caldwell Tanks, Inc. out of Louisville, KY is building the 3rd water tower and 2nd working water tower in Mandeville, Louisiana.  The new tower will be built near Fontainebleau State Park on Rapatel Street off U.S. 190.  Currently, the ground is being cleared to accommodate the new tower.  Construction on the new water tower will be completed by June, 2015 and should be functional, ready for use by August, 2015.  In addition to land development to make room to build the single-pedestal water tower, the Kentucky-based company, will be moving water distribution lines around the structure in order to accommodate the transfer of water for the entire city of Mandeville.

The other two standing water towers in Mandeville include the working water tower at St. Ann Street and a decommissioned water tower at Monroe St.  This water tower was leased to communication companies for cell phone antennas.  The water system in Mandeville consists of 5 underground wells.  The water tower at St. Ann St. holds 750,000 gallons of water.  The new water tower should assist with the demand for residential and commercial water needs from new development within the city of Mandeville.  It will also help with fire fighting capabilities and allow the St. Ann St. water tower to be maintenanced when necessary without any loss in water pressure.

The tower was designed under a separate $211,306 contract with Richard C. Lambert Consultants, LLC.  The total cost of construction will be $2.85 million.  It will be 6 feet higher than the St. Ann location.  In business since 1887, Caldwell Tanks is one of very few companies that specializes in building high-rise water towers in the United States.  They also built the St. Ann Water Tower over a decade ago, so they are familiar with the challenges of excavating and building in the St. Tammany Parish Area.

 

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As Pelican Park, a “staple” landmark in Mandeville, Louisiana, approaches  its 25th anniversary, St. Tammany Parish and Mandeville are partnering up to honor its family tradition by approving a road expansion as well as an expansion for the Park itself.  An alternate entrance to the park was announced at a news conference held by Pat Brister on July 15th.  Along with a 2.5 mile road which would begin just east of Forest Brook Subdivision on 1088 and go the northern end of Pelican Park, some of the rest of 296 acres of land, the purchase that is about to be completed between St. Tammany Parish and the state, will be used for an expansion of Pelican Park itself.  The land which encompasses land that was in and around the old Southeast Louisiana Hospital campus just east of Pelican Park may be sold to the Park in order to expand it just before the 25th anniversary.

pelican-park-road-map

The new road will extend from 1088 to the current Hwy. 190 entrance.  There are plans to combine the new entrance and the old entrance to allow access to the cut-through road as well as Pelican Park.  The road will go completely around the east side of the park, so plans are also in the works to possibly create a new entrance on both the north side and mid-section of the park.  This road will also ease traffic on Hwy. 59 and 190 as well, roads currently used by residents in the densely populated area between 1088 and 190 starting in the West at Hwy. 59 and going to Interstate 12 on the East side.

“It has been a quite congested area going in and out of Pelican Park for years . . . and this will relieve that pressure,” Pat Brister said at the news conference at the parish government complex. Other attendees of the news conference included Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere, City Councilman Rick Danielson, Parish Council members Reid Falconer and Maureen O’Brien, and Pelican Park Director Kathy Foley.  The construction project budget is approximately $11 million with design currently being solicited.  Construction work should start by Fall of 2015.

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