Photo du Jour: Metairie/Lakeway Center
New Orleans prides itself for its long-time locally owned businesses. Although many have been bought out or merged with existing companies over the years (i.e. K&B, Schwegmann's, D.H. Holmes, etc.), we still have proportionally more still around than most cities. A fact of life in this country in the 21st century is the convenience and perceived need for the so-called national chain "big box" retailers. The Southshore "big box" retail stores predominately cluster in one of three areas: the Jefferson Parish Eastbank (Metairie/Kenner/Elmwood), the Jefferson Parish Westbank (Gretna/Harvey), or within the City of New Orleans in New Orleans East. (And of course, those stores located in New Orleans East are out-of-commission for the foreseeable future, and maybe forever.) For many that live within the City, the stores located in Jefferson Parish are physically closer and easier to get to from their homes than the stores within the city boundaries in New Orleans East. The reality is that the "core" city (City of New Orleans from the 17th Street Canal to the Industrial Canal) has very few tracts of undeveloped land sizeable enough for such development. Furthermore, the scale and preferred makeup of such buildings do not fit the relatively dense urban composition and architectural context of the "core" city (City of New Orleans minus New Orleans East and Algiers). In the past few years, two big box stores were built within the core city--a Lowe's on Elysian Fields Avenue and a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the Lower Garden District. The introduction of Wal-Mart to Uptown New Orleans received significant opposition from preservation-minded citizens and small business owners, but was built anyway despite this. Supposedly The Home Depot is (at least, prior to KTMB) planning to build a new store along the Pontchartrain Expressway near Jefferson Davis Parkway/South Claiborne Avenue, but that project has been hush-hush pre-KTMB and post-KTMB. A new Lowe's appears to still be under construction post-KTMB on Jefferson Highway in Jefferson Parish right at the city boundary setting up yet another case of proximity to the city, but tax dollars all going towards the suburban parish and not the City.
Blah, blah, blah . . . With that, the picture above was taken Sunday from the rooftop parking area at the Lowe's on Veterans Boulevard in Metairie. The blown-out windows of Lakeway Center can be seen in the distance--the other side of the building facing Lake Pontchartrain sustained even more damage. The majority of the national retail stuff in Metairie is now open, although some remain closed as they are still being repaired.