Reinventing Conflict Of Interest

Jul 26, 2009 by

No Conflict?

The map above comes directly from the NOBC website. The numbered properties were found through the Orleans Parish Assessors website.

Sean Cummings has been touted as the savior of New Orleans in recent interviews in the Atlantic and National Geographic Traveler. I say interviews, but they are more like fluffy PR pieces loaded with complimentary softball questions which is a possibility considering Cummings uses the services of Simone Ink, a Washington, DC based “boutique” PR firm to pimp himself and his “boutique” holdings such as International House and Loft 523.

Cummings is the director of the New Orleans Building Corp, appointed in 2003 by  Mayor C Ray Nagin. Since that time Cummings has been hard at work creating a “new” New Orleans in the form of the Reinventing the Crescent plan, a six mile, 300 million dollar riverfront redevelopment that spans everything from public bike paths and greenspace to condos, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. (Although I have seen estimates for this project as high as one-billion dollars. Also, can someone explain to me how they can build a 900 room hotel/cruise ship terminal for 250 million dollars and the proposed bike paths will cost 135 million? It’s a thin coating of concrete on dirt with a few plants sprinkled here and there… 135 million?) While it’s an incredibly good idea, making use of property which is languishing, there has been a great deal made about the Cummings family holdings and whether or not there is a conflict of interest between those properties and the new development.

Between 2005 and 2008 Cummings has been before the Louisiana Board of Ethics numerous times. In June of 2005, the LBE ruled that as director of NOBC, Cummings had a conflict of interest under the state Code of Governmental Ethics and he should not participate “in matters involving the redevelopment of the New Orleans riverfront, since it would affect property he owns.” This opinion was withdrawn in September of the same year after Cummings appealed the decision, calling it “too general in scope.” In the withdrawal opinion, the LBE stated that “there was insufficient information available to the board regarding particular transactions in order to enable the board to define the interests of Mr. Cummings, if any, in the proposed transactions.” Of course at this time the redevelopment was still in the planning stages and the LBE planned further study of the matter.

In March of 2008, Cummings himself asked for the LBE to rule on the finalized Reinventing the Crescent plan in order to dispel any illusiory conflicts. The following May the LBE ruled that he did not have a “substantial” financial interest in the redevelopment and allowed him to continue as director of the NOBC. Did anyone bother to look at a map? Did they look at properties owned by his family?

Between Sean and his father, John Cummings, III, there are seven properties located within the designated redevelopment area district zone and an additional thirteen within eight blocks of the area. This coincides with an interestingly worded statement by Sean’s dad that “some properties are eight blocks away from the area” In fact, two properties are about eight blocks away. Of the 20 known properties in question most are either within the redevelopment area, or are within two blocks. Looking at the map, it’s interesting to see how nicely they frame the redevelopment.

The elder Cummings says that most of the properties were acquired well before the Reinventing the Crescent plan was proposed. For instance he says he bought 416 Gravier, where his offices are located, in 1975. Well, he’s close. Only half of the properties were purchased prior to Seans appointment. Following are the known properties and dates of purchase listed at the OPBOA website as of July 26, 2009:

Sean Cummings:
1993 – 3036 Chartres
1994 – 2900 Chartres
2001 – 1101 Tchoupitoulas (See next paragraph)
2002 – 601 Frenchman
2004 – 544 Esplanade
2009 – 441 Gravier

John Cummings III:
1973 – 416 Gravier
1973 – 412 Gravier
1986 – 28812 Triangle
1988 – 1114 Constance
1988 – 1110 Constance
1995 – 410 Natchez (an additional unit at this address was purchased in 1997)
2005 – 626 Mazant
2005 – 4030 Royal
2005 – 4024 Royal
2005 – 864 S Peters
2005 – 4019 Chartres
2007 – 1050 Annunciation
2007 – 1000 S Peters
2008 – 309 Magazine

Some of the property listings include more than one building/address. I don’t claim to understand the cryptic markings and abbreviations of the OPBOA but the following addendum to 1101 Tchoup’s property file clearly indicates that it includes much more than just 1101. By looking at Google Earth, it appears that almost the entire block encompassed by Annunciation, Tchoup, Chase and Gaienne is lumped under this one address. 1101 Tchoup was initially purchased in 2001, two years before Cummings appointment to the NOBC in 2003, but in 2003 the added properties were purchased and amended to the 1101 address.

SQ 70 A LOT L NOW LOT L-4 TCHOUPITOULAS & JOHN CHURCHILL CHASE (FKA/CALLIOPE)
160’3/159’8X127’8/128/2 SEE E

AS OF 11/17/03 PER JOHNNY ODOM TO ADD THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS:
1103-05-07 TCHOUPITOULAS & 610 HOUSE,LOFT 1-20 & PENTHOUS 1-5. SEE E

THIS PROPERTY WAS RESUB IN MAY OF 2003,SALE & RESUB INCLUDES
1119 TCHOUPITOULAS 1110 & 1128 ANNUNCIATION AS OF 7/15/04 SEE E

PROPERTY WAS CONVERTED TO CONDOS SEE 1101 TCHOUPITOULAS UNITS S01-SO4, L01-L20 &PH01-05

Do you see anything that might raise a red flag in the Conflict of Interest Department here? Lest anyone think that the 2005 purchases were carpetbagging of Katrina victims’ property, all of them were made well before the storm hit but of the seven properties located within the redevelopment area, three were bought in 2005 and one in 2007 by John Cummings, well after Seans’ appointment but prior to the LBE’s initial ruling.

To Sean’s credit, he has a number of people speaking up for his moral and ethical bearing. His father is one. Mayor Ray Nagin and City Council-members Arnie Fielkow and Jackie Clarkson are three others. All have expressed nothing but praise for the boy. Of course, Nagin, Fielkow and Clarkson all sit on the seven-member Board of Directors for the NOBC so perhaps we need another review by the LBE. Additional NOBC board-members include Xavier President Norman Francis and Councilman Cynthia Willard-Lewis. There are supposed to be three “private citizens” on the board, but that would bring the total members to eight, not seven. Regardless, there is no mention of any board members other than the five listed above on the NOBC website.

Of course, all this information would mean something were it not for the inescapable fact that it just doesn’t matter. Had the LBE found a conflict of interest, Cummings would have been forced to recuse himself from his post but he and his father would still own the properties and reap the benefits of their proximity to the development. You may ask what possible profits there could be and I shall give a few examples:

The property at 626 Mazant was purchased for $825,000. It is basically an empty corner lot occupying a quarter of its square block. The rest of the block is made up of small homes and businesses. It sits across Mazant from another empty lot and across Chartres from the Pauline Street Wharf. Now imagine how much that parcel of land would sell for if there was an amphitheater or public park across Chartres. Imagine if condos or apartments were erected here, the difference in rent or condo fees being so near to the Bywater Amphitheater. Especially if the upper units looked directly onto the stage? As stated in an earlier reply to a similar post, the difference between “a charming condo blocks away from the crumbling Glidden Paint factory” and “a charming condo blocks away from the Riverfront Wonderland” is about $1000 a month on your rent.

I can see both good and bad in the Reinventing the Crescent plan. The good being greenspaces, new things to do, revitalization of wasted space and a general “prettying-up” of a very ugly stretch of the Mississippi River. On the other hand, there are the inevitable fast-food joints, strip malls, parking nightmares, towering condos blocking the river view and river access, increased rents, closed “public” parks at night and Disneyfication of historic districts. While the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one, it remains abundantly clear that the profits of the two outweigh all of the citizens of New Orleans.

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53 Comments

  1. I tried to link this article to the ‘comments’ section of the Atlantic Monthly fluff piece on Mister Cummings.

    It told me it would immedaitely email me my ‘enterance code’.
    Nothing ever happened.

    Perhaps you’ll have better luck, M.

    It’s time to drag this, too, out in to the light.
    I’m getting so tired of this shit…..

  2. I would, but I really don’t feel like giving the Atlantic my e-mail so that they can fill my inbox with more crap. Currently I’m attempting to back out of some of the more useless sites which I joined in order to comment. Slowly but surely I’m saving more e-trees every day bu cutting down on my e-spam footprint!

    • MWPumilia

      Wow, I’m never more dumbfounded by the lack of vision by renters. Did either you or Wet bank even call Sean’s office? As an entrepreneur and wife of an artist, who pays everyone’s taxes on the block since 2005, I am saddened that you missed out on what this article and the riverfront redevelopment are trying to achieve…Finally, a reason to visit or live in New Orleans.Some positive PR! Last week, I listened to the CVB explain that international travelers need to stop hearing the K word, because they are ready to return. In the same week I tolerated a small minded rich kid involved with the artist movement tell me that by purchasing my house I was contributing to gentrification in the neighborhood. It’s all too much for those of us that want to see this city succeed in a mindful way. You aren’t helping your cause any, you sound like a drunken Bukowski. Good luck with your small view of the world around you.

      • Le Bloc

        “Finally, a reason to visit or live in New Orleans” ????

        Go fuck yourself!

    • darq future

      Fa shame! Reducing your spam footprint like that. I just had to use my spam catcher email to register to vote for your book,M.

  3. Pumilia – I don’t need some carpetbagging ‘entrepeneur’ (opportunist) to ‘import’ artists to New Orleans, there are PLENTY there already, and any artists that move there should be of their own accord/affinity for the City. Please, like ‘artists’ are like crap you get at Mal*Wart where if you need more you just order some up and they are on the next container ship from China. :( No thanks, really.
    New Orleans has PLENTY to attract folks to visit/work there – but the improvement that is needed is in the crime department – the Chief needs to get off of his tuckus and reign that shit in and get to a point were the prevention levels are outstripping the investigation needs. Get a mayor that will actually work FOR the City and her Citizens, not for his/her own aggrandizement. THOSE are two key points to improve the traffic to the city for fun & relocation.
    I currently live in Houston, but I’m working on moving to New Orleans because I love it – I have loved it since before the Federal Flood and it doesn’t take outrageously priced rents and hoi polloi to make me want to be there. Nouveau riche much? Tacky!

  4. @ MWPumilia;

    While I understand your frustration at things like some kid chiding you for buying property (oh, kids these days), gentrification is coming, whether we like it or not. It’s simply a fact of life.

    I watched this happen in Manhatten, in the 80’s, and it’s slowy happening here, now. I spent a summer with the Blackfoot Indians,
    who would say that the Big White People are always coming, never stop, and take everything in their path. Perhaps this is true, and perhaps it is nature. I see no reason to obsess about or defy the inevitable.

    Taking public office, even if it’s ‘quasi-public’ office, and using relatives to buy up property that will be hugely increased in value by your actions, in that same office, is criminal. It’s what Bill Jefferson is on trial for right now.

    Whatever your take on art and gentrification, for or against, there are too many factors to determine the future. We certainly can’t go on like this. As a long term Bywater/Marigny resident (over 15 years), I’ve seen a lot of changes and expect to see more. I would love a greenspace by the river, and beleive that the community can hold on to it’s integrity, at least for a while.

    I also believe that yet another wealthy investor, taking public office and then having a relative snap up property that will skyrocket in value as a result of their plans is as wrong as two noses. If you can’t see that simple equation as a conflict of interest, then you’ve chosen to ignore it.

    It’s as obvious as the nose(s) on your face.

  5. Here is my letter to the editors of the Atlantic.
    I tried to post on the actual article’s comment section, but no matter how many times I fill out their registration form, it refuses to authorize any comment or send me any link.

    I suggest sending your feedback to:
    [email protected]

    LD

    Dear Editors;

    I have just finished reading Christina Davidson’s piece, ‘Round Pegs in NoLA’s Square Hole: Entrepreneurs Defy Recession’.

    Besides her fluffy attitude towards Mister Cummings (at least she didn’t swoon over his cologne), the statement that the “city nearly destroyed by forces of nature nearly four years ago” is simply wrong.
    All findings, including those of the Army Corps of Engineers, clearly describe a flooding event due to human failure, ie: levees which were poorly designed, built & maintained.
    This is an easliy researched and well known occurence. I’m surprised at her lack of knowledge and expertise.
    Although it may be less commonly known, Sean Cummings has been up before the New Orleasn Ethics Board, due to his buying of multiple properties in the very area he has been appointed to improve. He avoided sanctions the first time around, due to the fact that many of thes eporperties are in his father’s name, a trick associated with Bill Jefferson’s family.

    I suggest you read M Styborski’s article on this, which clearly lists the 20 or so porperties in question, with a map fo their location within the planned improvement area.
    ( http://humidcity.com/?p=2363 )

    Like many, I look to the Atlantic for truth and integrity. This obvious glorification of potentially criminal acts saddled on a city struggling for recovery is hardly that. Profiteering disaster areas is a shameful thing. The idea that, as a city, we need to “import artists” is ludicrous and insulting to the many talented artists who have madew their living here and kept New Orleans on the creative map for generations.

    I suggest Ms. Davidson spend more time on research and leave the personal appraisals for Entertainmnet Tonight.

    Lord David
    Artist & Gallery Owner
    New Orleans

  6. Yeah, I know.
    Someday I’ll learn to type….

  7. Le Bloc

    Thank you for pointing this stuff out; you do the city a valuable service.

    It’s part of a threatening larger pattern… megalomaniacs like Cummings and Kabacoff have whole staffs of bright-eyed flacks writing press-release “journalism” on their behalves. See also this:

    http://www.americasquarterly.org/new-orleans-redevelopment

  8. I’m never more dumbfounded by the lack of reading comprehension of some people. Or their ability to to make blind assumptions at the drop of a hat.

    First, Mrs Artrsts-Wife, I do not rent, I own a house.

    Second, it’s clear that you missed the entire point of the post. I’m sure with your nose in the air it was difficult to see the part where I said that there were good things about the RIC. I also think parts of the RIC plan will damage certain spiritual and architectural sections of the city, but that’s not what the above article is about. It’s about greed and corruption, plain and simple.

    Let me explain it to you one more time in plain English: Sean Cummings and his daddy went on a real estate spree after Sean was apointed to the NOBC. In the thirty years since John bought his first property in New Orleans the two purchased just ten properties. In the seven years since Seans appointment, the two have purchased ten more properties, five of which sit directly inside the RIC zone.

    Third, while it’s great that your husband is doing so well that he can pay everyone’s taxes, keep in mind that once the redevelopment begins to take shape, those taxes will indeed rise.

    Fourth, “Finally a reason to visit or live in New Orleans?” What were you doing here before? Slumming? New Orleans does not need a Disney-by-the-River to attract tourists. Anyone with common sense can see that.

    By the way, (and I’m being purely hypothetical here, I’m sure,) just because you quit your job in the health care industry to ride the “art bus” around New Orleans does not necessarily make you an entrepreneur. I wonder what the thought processes are in a situation like that… “Hmm, New Orleans needs health care professionals but the artist community is on the rise… I bet I could double my salary if I switch over! I’m sure the new LSU Monstrospital can fill the void I leave behind!”

    Lastly, Mandy, (if you are who I think you are,) using the word “drunken” in conjunction with Charles Bukowski is not only redundant, but it is not the pejorative you clearly think it to be. I thank you for the comparison, my dear, and raise a glass of vodka to toast your obtuseness!! Cheers!

  9. M., thank you for bringing up the Stepford/Disney-esque (aka NON-New Orleans at ALL! UGH!) image that was looming in my perception reading about this craptacular development SCHEME.
    Blearrgghh!

  10. I live next door to the healing center.

    It’s outside my bedroom window, along with the 5th district police station, where the boys going off duty blast their car stereos like the winning football team, almost nightly. Probably to ensure my ‘quality of life’ at 2 am.

    Perhaps, in the name of Bukowski, I can hit some yoga students by projectile vomiting out my window, to the sounds of the latest R&B tracks that vibrate the glass in that very same window pane, almost every night.

    Just to make sure that all walks of life are acurately represented.

    Let the healing begin.

  11. While a conflict of interest may exist here, it may not be illegal according to the letter of the law, and Cummings may not even be acting improperly.

    So he’s bought property near the development. Based on the history of major projects in NOLA, that is still a risk. As it stands, I would rather have these folks vested in the completion of the task at hand.

    A more troubling (and criminal) conflict of interest would be if they used their positions to identify property in the path of development, conspired with an assessor to lower that property’s value artificially, bought that property, conspired with an assessor to increase that property’s value after the purchase, and then directed the development to acquire the property at the inflated price by using government or grant funded currency.

    That’s traditional Dirty South political corruption, but that does not appear to be what is happening here.

  12. Dear Cousin Pat;

    Maybe it would take ‘all that’ to be troubling to you.
    Perhaps I’m more easliy vexed.
    Or maybe ‘all that’ is already happening.

    These properties are being purchased at a fraction of what they will be worth after Mister Cummings gets his ‘development’ done.

    Let’s say the accessor has ALREADY lowered the property values, as the city is less viable real estate than it once was, mortgage insurance is difficult, if not impossible to get, and the housing market here, as much or more than anywhere else, is bottoming out.

    No further conspiracy with another accessor will be needed to raise those proerty values, as Sean, himself, is directing city building funds and projects to this area, even though many more blighted areas stand untouched.

    Once done, he can sell that property OR RENT IT BACK TO THE CITY & IT’S CONSTITUENTS at hugely inflated prices.

    Just because one guy is playing the drums, keyboards & guitar while singing, doesn’t mean it isn’t a band.
    It just means there’s a lot less split when the money rolls in.

    Legal or not ( I suspect Jim Letton would say NOT), what Sean Cummings is doing is a crime against the City of New Orleans, the people who live here, and every hard working schmoe who is trying to make a go of it in a city nearly abandoned by hope, for exactly the reasons that people don’t want to come here. The fact that he was appointed to this post by Ray Nagin is a red flag you can see from space.

    The other side of this is down the road, when Little Sean and his BMW buddies buy up all the houses in our neighborhood they can get their lily white hands on, throw out the people who made this area great, and ‘import’ some new ‘artists’ to fill up their souless Disneyland from hell. Then what?

    Why go see real New Olreans Music & Art when your college friends from New Jersey are playing at your new Starbuck’s franchise where the Saturn Bar used to be?

    “Acting improperly”?
    Your fucking kidding me, right?
    When was this sort of thing ever ‘proper’?
    On the Trail Of Tears & at Wounded Knee?
    Rich White Man come take everything, scatter tribe.
    I just hope he doesn’t do it ‘improperly’.

    Maybe from Georgia this looks kosher.
    From my front step it looks like criminal conspiracy, plain & simple.

  13. I understand that living in New Orleans erodes any credibility of any public official working on any project where public money is involved. The same stuff went on back in Georgia, usually on a much smaller scale, usually with less avenues of chicanery. These days, I hear family and friends back in the Empire complaining about COI and corruption dealing with local tree ordinances, and I laugh.

    I don’t think that negates the validity of my questions, though.

    Now, if there is any illegal activity here, I’d hope Big Jim nails these folks to the wall. But from what you describe, I’m just not seeing it.

    Do they stand to make a great deal of money off of this? Absolutely. As does anyone who -believes this project will actually be completed as billed- and owns or buys property in areas close by. From the signage I see walking from Mimi’s to Frenchman, it looks like folks are more concerned with ammonia and cold storage than they are for a park, which means that this RTC project is somewhere other than a done deal.

    But as long as they are using their own money to buy properties at current fair market value based on information shared with the public (so others have a chance to do the same), I don’t think that is against the law. The road to bankruptcy court is paved with the portfolios of such plans.

    And I’m not sure the Starbucks-replacing-Saturn Bar scenario is very realistic. For that many folks to ingress and swamp the Marigny and Bywater with the intention of making it like downtown Atlanta, it would require far more than a park by the river. Folks who immigrate to those neighborhoods live there because of what those neighborhoods are, and because they aren’t like every yuppie enclave. There simply aren’t that many artists in New Jersey that will move here to re-create New Jersey and have the money to pay for such high rents.

  14. Mister Georgia;

    I admit to histronics in my prediction of a Starbucks replacing the Saturn Bar. O’Neil would come back from the grave to stop it.

    I also understand that there are things, dark & slimey things, that live just within the law, and thereby survive. An ethics commitee, on the other hand, is a different story. If one rereads M’s post, it clearly states that he passed their muster because HE didn’t own enough property, and the question of having them in his father’s name has not been adddressed. Does this constitute fraud? Is it actually considered ethical? I hope to see it put to the test.

    I think we are approaching this from different ends of the cloth, truht be told. And you are probably correct that this activity is just enough inside the line, or close enough to the outside, that it will sail merrily through, unabated.

    I beleive that a referee at a fight, however honest & true, shold not be related to one of the fighters, or more acurately, have money invested in one.

    Mister Cummings has money invested in these areas, I beleive, becasue he can CAUSE improvements to be made there. Would he have bought so much property in this corridor had his plan NOT been looked at so seriously? I doubt it.

    It is that arrogant tactic that I find so unappealing, and it’s close proximity to corruption stinks of the real deal, even if it skates by.
    It smacks of a known felon getting off ona technicality.

    While others, too, might be buying there in anticipation of this development, none of them can, or have, caused it to be so. Only Mister Cummings wears that badge of honor.

    In closing, while my Saturn To Starbucks claim was intentionally over the top, I urge you to rethink your final passage. Like a teeter tooter with a kid creeping across it, there comes a point of imbalance where it swings wildy one way.

    “Folks who immigrate to those neighborhoods live there because of what those neighborhoods are, and because they aren’t like every yuppie enclave.” Do you think that’s why we’ve seen the term ‘investment property’ used so much here recently?

    They don’t have to live here to own it. They just have to buy the houses and rent them out at steadily increasing prices until only those who want to drag their yuppie ass to ‘the hood’ are the ones who can afford to live here.

    I’ve seen house prices quadruple in ten years here.
    Rents have tripled.
    Many, many of my frineds, who moved here 12 or 15 years ago to avoid increasing rent costs in the Qaurter, have now moved across St Claude as their rewnted homes are priced beyond their reach.

    I watched this happen in lower manhattan in the 80’s. My tiny, crack neighborhood apartment off 2nd avenue is now a condo with an almost $1,000 a month fee. Alphabet City, the scourge of the Lower East Side, is now too expensive for all but suit & tie professionals to live in. Williamsburg is getting pricey and Red Hook is headed off the hook.

    Give it ten years, dude,
    You’ll be paying a cover to get in to BJ’s on a Tuesday Night.

  15. PS to Cousin Pat;

    While I don’t approve of Mr Cummings (was I clear on that?) and honestly don’t look forward to the gentrification of the Bywater & Marigny neighborhoods, I don’t wish to be misconstrued as standing against the latter of the two. It would be futile and ridiculous anyway.

    I might not like rain on my parade, but I understand it’s part of the process. It is actually to the credit of all those industrious and creative souls who have migrated here over the years, to continue this neighborhood’s taste for the strange and creative, the do-it- yourselfers, and the working class artisians, et al.

    It is that, as much as flood proof location and potential park gound, that has made it a Place To Be In New Orleans.

    Nothing stays the same, except perhaps mummified remains, and those just rot very slowly. The never ending spawn of humanity goes towards the light every time. And that light is here. It just is.

    I just wanted to be clear that I accept progress, and all the good & evil it may bring. Sean Cummings, this time, being the latter, in my book.

    And there probably won’t be a cover at BJ’s in 10 years. But Johnny Kipper won’t be smoking entire pigs out back and giving it away for free anymore. Not a chance. That, my friend, I shall truly miss.

  16. Pay, Pat, Pat… look again at the dates! Five properties bought just two years after Sean’s appointment. Four of those sitting in the middle of the redevelopment district zone. (#s 11, 15 & 16 on the map. #15 represents 2 Royal St addresses.) This is not some “happy accident.” A “happy accident” would be more like John Cummings making seven purchases of thousands of acres of wetlands between 1994 and 1997 in the hopes that someone would build a big ol’ theme park next to it in a few years. Oh, wait… he did.

    From a 2007 report by Aerostar Environmental for the USACE:
    AEROSTAR contacted Mr. John Cummings, III, subject site owner, concerning the past and present uses of the subject site. According to Mr. Cummings, the approximate 3,000-acre tract of land that includes the subject site is undeveloped property. He is not aware of any previous development on that property. Mr. Cummings stated that he purchased the 3,000-acre tract in 1994 from a government foreclosure agency. He would not supply any additional information until AEROSTAR provided him with the exact subject site location and boundaries. AEROSTAR faxed and sent copies of the subject site map and questions pertaining to the background of the site to Mr. Cummings. Although several attempts were made to obtain site-specific information, as of the date of this report, Mr. Cummings has not provided AEROSTAR with information pertaining to the subject site.

    Go figure.

    As for the Saturn being replaced by a Starbucks, Dave, you will NEVER make money in real estate if you think like that! The Starbucks will be inserted next to, or across form the Saturn in order to catch all the drunks trying to sober up before heading home. If Saturn Bar management is listening, I’d suggest coming up with a few killer iced coffee recipes, and soon!

  17. City Planning Commission Hearing
    January 23, 2007
    ZONING DOCKET 71/06 – Request by SEAN B CUMMINGS for a Conditional Use to permit a mixed use residential/commercial development in an existing structure in an LI Light Industrial District, on Square 20, Lots 14, 15 and 16, in the Third Municipal District, bounded by Press, Chartres, Montegut and N. Peters Streets. The municipal address is 2900 CHARTRES ST. (ZBM D-14)
    (Note: 2900 Chartres is the warehouse across Peters from the NOCCA Riverfront building at 2800 Chartres.)

    City Planning Commission Public Hearing
    August 11, 2009
    ZONING DOCKET 77-09 – Request by SEAN B. CUMMINGS for an Amendment to Ordinance 22,638 M.C.S. (Z.D. 71/06, a Conditional Use to permit the redevelopment of a vacant industrial structure into a mixed-use residential/ commercial complex in an LI Light Industrial District), on Square 20, Lots 14, 15, and 16, and Square 21, all lots, in the Third Municipal District, bounded by Chartres, Montegut, Clouet, and North Peters Streets. The municipal addresses are 2900 AND 3036 CHARTRES STREET. (ZBM D-14)
    (Note: This amends the empty lot between Montegut and Clouet Streets to the 2900 Chartres approval. These properties are on the map as #s 1 & 2. Also note that #2 on the map is slightly off of its exact location. Blame Google Earth. Together both properties combine to form an unbroken stretch from Press to Clouet.)

    LBE Final Opinion
    May 9, 2009
    The first issue involves the first phase, which includes the sale by the Port to the City of the Mandeville Street Wharf to be developed into a performance venue.

    City Business
    June 10, 2009
    The $30 million first section of the project involves street improvements along North Peters and Chartres streets, project officials said during a presentation last night at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.

    Hey! That’s just a few blocks away from where Sean’s first two properties are located! What a stroke of luck! If I were a cynical type, I might think it was planned that way…

    Also, you can read the May 9, 2009 final LBE opinion here:
    http://domino.ethics.state.la.us/EthicRu2.nsf/ecfd553acd8f6446862567f9006e60b6/58ab3a0718d5949586257448006758ab?OpenDocument

  18. Lord David, you’re right, I think he’s going to skirt close enough to the line to make his money without any legal or ethics violations. I do hope that if he does cross the line, the Ethics Board and the authorities call him on it. I’m not asking you to like him, I’m just sayin’ I don’t see anything here that is illegal or unethical from the descriptions (distasteful is another category).

    And I hear you on that smoked pig. Both my hometown and the place where I went to college have undergone furious transformations that could have broken down the old culture, and they lost a few things along the way. But even as each place gentrified, the locals pressured and agitated and invested and preservered. Now, each place has a hightened sense of character, a stronger bond between locals, and new playgrouds for the kids. The iconic local restaurants, watering holes & music venues became legendary and recession-proof.

  19. M, I don’t think any of those purchases are happy accidents or lucky. I agree they were all meticulously planned. I agree these cats bought low and plan to rent or sell high. I agree that they had some insider information to make that happen.

    But I don’t think that’s going to be found illegal or unethical unless public money changes hands, or connections can be proven that said they acquired the properties at an artificially low value.

    The important date is not when junior was appointed to run the project. The important date is when the project went public. If they had bought these properties before the sellers or appraisers knew there would be a huge public investment nearby, that could be unethical and maybe illegal.

    If they announced the project, and started buying property -after- that announcement, that is actually a fairly transparent way to do business.

  20. Cousin Pat;

    I never said I thought he was wihtout ethical violations. While these actions may not constitute actual criminal acts or conspiracies, they are certainly unethical. Hell to the yeah.

    If you actaully read the above posts and cross reference with the map, you’ll see that he started pushing to turn that long warehouse on Press Street into condos back in 2007, knowing full well his ‘Directorship’ could push through the development of the adjacent area. This is as unethical as any insider trading, but worse, in that he controls the trade.

    I thought you might be more familiar with these locations and actions, re: your mention of the walk from Mimi’s. I guess not.

    It take a little more than looking at yard signs to catch these shenannigans deliberately hidden behind reams of paperwork, smoke & mirrors. What better time to push through ones plan then when everybody else is looking at the Port of Chicken Freezers? The signs you see addressing that are directed at delivering a local opinion to a known company and the Port Authorities.

    Sean Cummngs doens’t give a shit about our (your) opinion.
    He buys opinions and has them read aloud, it seems, by reading the Atlantic article.

    I spoke yesterday to many who attended Cummings ‘meetings’ on the River Front development. While many would love some greenspace there, his attitude of “Thank me. I’m doing this all for YOU” was described repeatedly to me as ‘arrogant’, ‘self-serving’ & ‘untrustworthy’.

    While those opinions are simply that, I restate, so there is no mistake;
    This property grab in area that his position with local government allows him to develop with public funds and grants is as unethical as anything can be.

    Stop missing the point and suggesting that “anyone can buy there”.
    Only Sean Cummings is The Director of New Orleans Building Corporation, a semi-public office, with the power to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to an area he is buying up under another name, to avoid ethical questions that have been previously and repeated raised.

    I hope that clears it up for you.

    • How am I missing the point? If he does things illegal or unethical, I hope he is caught and prosecuted. However, I think this guy is going to get away with whatever it is he is doing because of all the reasons I’ve mentioned.

      In addition to that, state Ethics rules being so easy to get around only guarantee he won’t get caught.

      And Press is not between Mimi’s and Frenchman.

  21. PS to Pat;

    “If they had bought these properties before the sellers or appraisers knew there would be a huge public investment nearby, that could be unethical and maybe illegal.”

    Purchase dates go back for years before he pushed this through, and yeah, he pushed it through. Of course the sellers didn’t know he was going to direct all those millions to developing the River Front.
    He didn’t lean on it hard until he had some properties there.

    Are you getting it now?

    • I got it when I first read the post. But if I think this is crooked, it doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. It comes down to what you can prove vs. where the laws allow the line to be drawn.

      The road to bankruptcy court is paved with the portfolios of speculators. Especially those who served on a board or directed a major project that was never completed. Were those properties undesirable in the first place? Would they only gain value if a major development occurred? If he can prove he’d make money either way, he’s got an out. (On the other hand, if he’s accrued heavy debt making these purchases, and will only make a profit if the project succeeds, then he has motive. I just don’t think you’ll find that.)

      And how many cities have redeveloped their riverfronts in the past decades? How many cities have experienced property-value rise in more historic neighborhoods used as local arts & commerce centers? He doesn’t have to do much to prove either reasonable doubt or financial interest independent of the project’s success.

      Once the only thing to discuss is his margin of profit, and the city gets a park next to the river, you’ll be hard pressed to nail him to the wall, distatasteful as his tactics may be. I mean, what is the worst they can do to him, remove him from the project leadership? Do they stop the project just to spite him at this point?

      • Your last paragraph is what’s been sticking in my craw all day.
        What is the worst that could happen to this guy? Pretty much nothing. Not a damn thing.

        I can agree to disagree about the ethical bounderies here, with you or anyone else. If I see it as underhanded, as you point out so truthfully, so what? It’s not like I’ll tarnish his giant reputation machine from my little keyboard. I am but a voice crying out in the wilderness.

        Whatever happens next with Cummings, the city needs to stop allowing idiots to appoint fools, crooks endorsing theives, on & on & on. Of course, now I’m really sounding delusional.
        Never.
        Going.
        To happen.

        By the way, I never suggested Press was between Mimi’s and Frenchman or whatever. I know the neighborhood in the dark, drunk & blindfolded. I was merely suggesting that if you were a Mimi’s regualr you would certainly know those warehouses across from NOCCA, a few blocks down river, just past Montegut.

        And personally, I think when he gets approved to turn one of those things into condos next to the park he, as Director, planned, he’ll make a shitload of money off of a corrupt, preplanned, and unethical scheme, foisted on all of us by skating around the edges, establishing a controling foothold in the neighborhood, where he’ll begin to act out “His Plan”. And nobody will say a word.

        But that’s just my opinion.
        We’ll have to wait & see.

  22. The final map/plan/etc. was submitted to the LBE in February of this year. As to public knowledge, they’ve been talking about this thing since early-this-century so it’s anyone’s guess when it actually “became” public. My take is that while Sonny was hammering out what goes where, he was pointing Daddy in the right directions.

    I keep seeing a five block buffer zone in relation to this deal. A lot of properties are “five blocks away” from either the redevelopment zone or the WTC “mega-splendiferous-fix-the-cities-woes-in-a-heartbeat” building. (You know, the one they can’t find financing for…) The first phase of construction will be “five blocks” from Sean’s first two parcels of land. So there you go future land barons/public servants: five blocks is your Golden Rule!

    Something else that nags me about the Chartres addresses: they were purchased in ’93 & ’94. As far as I know they have sat dormant and unimproved since then. If I’m to believe Sean Cummings is some angel of redevelopment, why has it taken him fifteen years to do anything with these properties? Unless it has something to do with taking the depreciation value off his taxes until such time as he could make an incredible profit…

    I’m guessing there will be a huge fish market somewhere in the redevelopment, because from here, it already smells.

  23. Finally I have found a comprehensive overview of the final plan, (not easy as the NOBC website is filed with odd links and wrong turns,) dated February, 2008. Download it here:

    http://www.neworiverfront.com/ThePlan.html

    When you get to the page, click the topmost link: web view (72dpi)
    and all glorious 65 pages will download to your computer!

    There’s a very interesting difference between the Board of Directors listed on the NOBC website and the Board which is listed in the brochure:

    Ed Blakely.

    Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous! Yes, Ed “Cranes-In-The-Sky” Blakely was at one time a member of the NOBC Board of Directors! If we’re not careful, we could have a farce on our hands…

  24. Thanks to M’s research and graphics, I have layered the Cummings property holdings map with the page from the NOBC Plan, which shows the communities included in this project that can expect to see the greatest ecomnomic development.

    Of course, those members of the NOBC knew all of this long before The Plan was released to the public.

    Notice how many of Cummings properties, albiet Cummngs Sr as Jr’s proxy, lie within the pink, extra special zone, recieving the highest economic development of all….

    Every single one.

    http://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/81/l_8284368fda7f4c959287dd076394409b.jpg

  25. zombiefan

    somebody please help me understand this one.

    http://www.nolatown.com/

    • It appears to be the new Star Trek Vacation Center, reclining gracefully along the lakeside in New Orleans East, waiting for a hurricane to ravage it like a fleet of Klingon Warships.

      Whatever the developers are smoking, I sure wish they’d pass it ’round thisa way.

      Oh, what the hell.
      Why not spend eleventy kabillion dollars on a ‘water’s edge’ Dream Village? We can’t afford flood protection, anyway….

    • Reminds me of the Saudi Arabian ‘palm tree’ neighborhood and the Burj al Arab all built out into the water… Interesting concept but the ‘tunnel’ looks like a glorified drainage pipe. And if those are artists displaying/selling their wares inside of it, they will have to have better lighting. The dappled effect of the sun filtering thru is not optimum for prospective buyers to see what’s what.

      • Love the smooth “jazz” soundtrack. Sounds exactly what I would expect the patrons there to listen to. And did you notice the little people in the vid? All white. At least the RIC plan sprinkled color throughout their brochure!

        Speaking of which, if you’ve looked at the RIC brochure available from the link somewhere above, I noticed something interesting. All the proposed projects are lush, green and colorful. The proposed buildings are a shining, pure white. The parts of the city that will remain untouched are an ugly, drab gray. (The river, however, is portrayed in it’s accurate, festive brown!)

        This is one of those marketing tricks that people use to make whatever they’re selling look better than it actually is, like the big eight-inch tall Big Mac in the commercial with the dew-dappled tomatoes and crisp green lettuce. How often does the soggy, smashed thing you unwrap resemble the ad? Beware!

        (I just realized I used the word dappled after you Elspeth. Please don’t sue me for plagiarism! :) )

        • M, my dear – use away! ‘Dappled’ is way too out in the common usage world (not that it is used all that commonly) for me to lay my claim on it. (although, I do love the word)
          Yes, the characters were rather lacking in skintone for sure. And the antiseptic, sparkling white…ICK! New Orleans is not ‘moderne’ like that. I LOVE the mishmash of color, the textures, the perfect imperfectness. They can take that Uber-Funkin-SMOOOOOOOOTH look to Miami or LA or hell, Houston/Galveston. It doesn’t say “New Orleans” at all. :(

  26. D bloc

    More Sean Cummings hype– I mean, coverage– this time from the NY Times.

    Gosh, New Orleans could be “like a smaller Seattle.” How appealing. How nice that these carpetbaggers– I mean, enterpreneurs– are here to reinvent our community out from under us.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/business/smallbusiness/30sbiz.html

    Dig the NYC-centric obsession with our city’s low, low rents and low, low cost of living… why, one woman found an apartment here for only 1800 dollars a month!!! Shit, who said there’s an affordable housing crisis??! Not for these (white rich yankee-mentality) go-getters!

    Step aside, poor people! step aside, locals! Roll out the red carpet for the new new new new orleans!

  27. well. i’m depressed. i can’t believe that’s what they propose for
    Lincoln Beach.
    i glad my daddy isn’t alive to see this.

    it’s obvious these developers have no idea what it means to
    live in New Orleans. shameful.

  28. Yeah, a ‘sanitized for your protection’, Hollywood backlot-perfect facades/shiny finishes…it’s just NOT Nola. :(
    Urban Development in keeping w/ Local Style/Community Vocab = EPIC FAIL

  29. Zombiefan

    thanks for your takes on “nolatown”…. rich stuff! There are some interesting quotes from Sean, Blakely, Cynthia on the project in CityBusiness:

    Cummings and City Council members were cautious about prematurely committing the project to one developer “because we don’t want to create false hope,” said Cummings. (someone needs a Raycation)

    “We’ve gotten into trouble before in this city by getting into agreements with developers that are undercapitalized,” said Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, Councilwoman at-large.

    Nolatown’s proposed mixed-retail development will be 100 percent privately funded.

    Ed Blakely, director of the Office of Recovery and Development Administration, said the project is better controlled by private funds because the city cannot be blamed for the project not moving forward.

    ###
    Back to the riverfront development project, this update was provided at the June 2009 Board meeting of the Southeast Lousiana Flood Protection Authority -east. Forgive me if this was already posted or reported earlier.

    CBGB monies (read hurricane recovery funds) to the tune of $30MM?? That could have funded the city’s entire commitment to the “soft second mortgage program with money to spare for another extension to the Ciber contract.
    Comparing the map of Cummings holdings with where the Phase 1 access points and improvements seems to validate whats been said here. Of cource this could all still be coincidental. And that trout could have grown up in my milk.

    http://www.slfpae.com/minutes/09June18%20SLFPA-E%20Board%20Meeting%20Minutes.pdf

    3. Riverfront Development Project.
    Mr. John Barry introduced Allen Eskew. Mr. Eskew is a leading, award winning architect who has been involved with the riverfront for a number of years. Mr. Barry stated that the Reinventing the Crescent project will do much for the quality of life of the local citizenry and for the resurgence of New Orleans.
    8
    Mr. Eskew explained that the master plan for Reinvesting the Crescent was completed last spring and includes six miles of riverfront from the Jackson Avenue Ferry (upriver) to the Holy Cross Levee (downriver). The master plan sets a development frame work for recovery. The master plan client is the New Orleans Building Corporation. The project is funded with Community Block Grant Funding through the LRA, as the fiduciary manager of the funds, for the City of New Orleans through the New Orleans Building Corporation. Federal funding of $30 million was received for Phase 1 which stretches from the foot of Esplanade Avenue to Manzant Street (about 1.5 miles).
    Mr. Eskew advised that the Phase 1A project boundary includes about 40 acres (1.5 miles) of real estate. Approximately 1.25 miles or 20 acres of park area remains after the railroad footprint and batture are removed. The portion of the Mandeville Street Wharf that was burned in a fire a few days after Hurricane Katrina has been removed.
    Half of the Piety Street Wharf was saved during a major fire on May 15th. An elevated pedestrian ramp will be constructed at the foot of Esplanade Avenue. The ramp will go over the rail corridor and the floodwall and into the remaining portion of the Mandeville Street Wharf, which will become a 60,000 square foot covered pavilion. The 15 foot zone required by the Orleans Levee District and the 23 foot clearance required by the railroad has been maintained in the design of the elevated pedestrian ramp at Esplanade Avenue and the proposed elevated stair crossing at Piety Street. Mr. Eskew showed renderings of the proposed elevated walkway, park, gardens, playground and elevated stairway. A 20 foot pedestrian promenade will be maintained through the project site. One new walkout pier will be introduced at Gallier Street. In order to maintain bank stability, Mr. Eskew is working with the USACE relative to landscaping. Thirteenth public meetings have been held on the plan. Information is posted on the web site http://www.neworiverfront.com.
    Mr. Eskew was requested to contact Stevan Spencer, SLFPA-E Regional Chief Engineer, concerning regulatory review by the Authority.
    Mr. Eskew advised that the regulatory review package would be submitted today to the USACE. Eustis Engineering has completed the bank stability analysis. The environmental review is in its last week. The design criteria has been negotiated with the Public Belt Railroad. After bids are received, construction is estimated to start by the middle of December and be completed in 18 months. The total gross funding is $30 million; however, the net funding for construction is approximately $23.5 million.

    Advanced discussions are being held with the Audubon Institute concerning long term maintenance of the park. One hundred percent of the property in the project has been deemed surplus maritime by the Port of New Orleans. The project was developed in complete coordination with the Port and no surrendering of active maritime space has
    taken place.

  30. From the NY Times link above:
    “We must likewise recruit entrepreneurs who are drawn to a joyful quality of life. It’s a home-run success story. Entrepreneurs are reinventing New Orleans, like Prague after the curtain, like Milan, like a smaller Seattle.”

    I may actually vomit.

    How joyful a quality of life will it be when you run us all out of our homes with your $1800 a month apartment rent?

    Is decimating a beautifully growing culture, many of whom came back after The Storm and rebuilt even RENTAL PROPERITES, just to have a place to live and some local pride REALLY a “home-run success story”?

    Like Prauge after the curtain?
    Really?
    Are you fucking kidding me?
    Are we now graying hooded figures, crawling from the wreckage and toothlessly grinning at the Hot Water Soup that SEAN CUMMINGS, Miracle Saviour, is doling out out of his magic bucket, as he stands atop the Ruins Of The Horrid Past, cape rippling behind him as the flag rises?
    Excuse me, I AM going to vomit.

    Do any of these wonderful new money grubbing entrepeneurs have a clue what happened after the Reinvention of the Bay Area?
    Suburban housing prices rose to a par with Beverly Hills, homelessness spread like a cold at camp during spin the bottle week, small businesses folded, unable to pay ’boutique’ rents (boutique means add a zero in French, I think).

    Seattle? Over populated, crammed full of franchise businesses and of course, home to Starbucks, who will no doubt own many souls here before it’s said & done.

    I only want to see the New Orleans Space Needle if it’s a pike with Cummings severed head on it.

  31. “According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, the New Orleans metropolitan area reported an increase of nearly 100,000 nonfarm jobs from October 2005 — soon after Katrina — to June 2009.”

    Wow. The New York Times is certainly on the ball! In such an agrarian area as New Orleans, who would have ever thought we would be able to create so many nonfarm jobs! Yay us!

    “Jon Guidroz, 27, is one of the entrepreneurs who was persuaded to move to the city. He grew up in New Orleans but was living in Massachusetts and working for Free Flow Power, a renewable energy company, after Katrina hit. “I wanted to return to help,” he said. But he said he did not see a strong business reason to move.

    Then, last year, Sean Cummings, a real estate developer and entrepreneur in New Orleans, randomly found Free Flow’s Web site and noticed that the company had a Mississippi River project in the works.”

    Wait… Guidroz worked for a company developing a Mississippi River project but couldn’t see a reason to move here? Was he not aware that the Mississippi River ran through New Orleans? Must be one of the 80% of our school children who graduate high school without being able to read a map. Yeah, that’s the kind of brilliant mind we need here in our city.

    “After work, many of the young businesspeople gather for drinks at International House, the boutique hotel in the central business district that Mr. Cummings opened 10 years ago across the street from his loft building. Mr. Cummings and Mr. Perkin also hold monthly meetings at the hotel in which business owners can share war stories and vent.”

    Nothing like kissing the feet of your anointed saviour, eh kids? Thousands of venues to meet-up for a drink, or hear a band and blow off the after-work steam, but they all scurry dutifully to Boss Cummings’ place to show their loyalty. But then If I was given six months rent-free and a briefcase of start-up capital I suppose I’d kiss Sean’s ass too. Wouldn’t you?

    For someone who claims a love for New Orleans, Sean Cummings has certainly gone out of his way to ignore it’s people since he’s recruiting “talent” form everywhere but here. I guess that’s why he’s giving us the bike paths.

    • Fuck those clever bastards.
      Having just come from the Zydepunks show @ the Hi Ho on St Claude Avenue, where hundreds of tattooed freaks appeared endlessly and out of nowhere, I realized that nodody is reinventing this neighborhood any time soon, especially from the sanctum of Cummings stupid little bar.
      Scruffy as they may be, these people own houses here.

      I saw a trash can in front of a beautifully renovated house on Burgundy Street, right next to the two story circus bicycles and bizarre bead sculptures. Instead of having the house number painted on it like all the others, it had two simple words that say it all: “Define Sketchy”.

      Welcome to the neighborhood, Imports.
      You will be assimilated.
      Resistance is futile.
      Yeah, you right.

  32. While all the imported entrepe -revenuers are sitting around the cracker barrel, over by Boss Cummings, taking over the Parish so we can see ‘how its done up north’, maybe, just maybe, in between buying up property with insider trading secrets and government sponsored land grabs, somebody might think about reopening the grocery store at Elysian Fields and St Claude.

    I know Kabacoff has plans for an all organic co-op at The Healing Center, right next to the St Claude Community Center (another empty room in an empty building, except for the cops who blast their stereos in the middle of the night), but we little folk might not be able to read those esoteric labels or afford hydroponic white bread. Vegan pork chops just aren’t for everybody. Ya heard?

    Of course, working all day in Sean’s office building, and then going directly to Sean’s ’boutique hotel’ bar, in between monthly meetings at Sean’s ’boutique hotel meeting room’ for stories about their conquests, how the hell would they know what’s going on in the city they’re “reinventing”?

    Maybe those artists they import can bring them some groceries, too.
    I sure as hell ain’t feeding a bunch of Boss Hoog’s suck-up clowns.
    Let them eat cake.
    I’m sure Sean has a bakery somewhere, too.

  33. If he does have a bekery, I hope all of his flour has weevils and his butter is rancid.

    Let me guess, he’s got something on the side w/Riley for Mayor…that would make it all soooo much more sucky than it already is.

  34. When it all comes right down to it, Sean Cummings is such a geek jack-hole, he literally has to buy his friends. How very sad for him.

  35. Utterly and completely so.

  36. nolavenger

    1. Remember this: When Sean C. went before the Ethics Board, they determined that he didn’t have substantial interest, and then immediately afterward they all resigned (11 of 12 maybe?) because they did not want to comply with the new disclosure laws;

    2. when you do the tax bill research, note that several properties do not have tax bills!?!?!

    3. Also look up property owned in business names and you will find more valuable properties: 501 Elysian Fields!!!!!!!!!!!

    # loc. address owner 1 Sale Date Sale Price tax bill $
    1 A 1050 Annunciation St MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS ET AL 5/3/2002 $360,000 $37,613
    2 1110 Annunciation MR. SEAN CUMMINGS ET A 12/19/2001 $1,750,000 $0
    3 1128 Annunciation MR. SEAN CUMMINGS,ET AL 12/19/2001 $1,750,000 $0
    4 1041 Constance St MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS ET AL 7-Jul-88 $398,000 $19,270
    5 1053 Constance St CUMMINGS ETALS JOHN 7-Jul-88 $398,000 $18,385
    6 1110 Constance St MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS ET AL 7-Jul-88 43857 $1,466
    7 1111 Constance St CUMMINGS ETALS JOHN 7-Jul-88 $42,880 $6,038
    8 1114 Constance St MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS ET AL 7-Jul-88 $43,857 $835
    9 864 S Peters St MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS ET AL 8/1/1990 $420,000 $64,369
    10 1000 S Peters St CUMMINGSJOHN ET ALS 4/22/1988 $150,000 $18,231
    11 1040 S Peters St CGCD ENTERPRISES LLC 4/5/2001 $0 $103,526
    12 410 Natchez Unit 1 MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS
    13 329 Tchoupitoulas Ekistics, Inc 3/18/1992 $130,000 $0
    14 610 Tchoupitoulas Lengsfield Lofts, LLC 4/16/2004 $0 $0
    15 733 Tchoupitoulas Ekistics No.2L L C 8/10/1995 $960,000 $0
    16 829 Tchoupitoulas Ekistics, Inc 1/11/2000 $0 $0
    17 1101 Tchoupitoulas St MR. SEAN B CUMMINGS ET AL 12/19/2001 $1,750,000 $0
    18 B 412 Gravier St MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS 3/15/1973 $0 $12,500
    19 416 Gravier St MR. JOHN J CUMMINGS 0000000 $00000000000 $61,452
    20 441 Gravier St Sean Cummings 12/8/1998 $200,000 $0
    21 441 Gravier St ESKISTICS NO. 1 LLC 5/18/1995 $0 $0
    22 523 Gravier St INTERNATIONAL HOUSE LLC 8/2/2001 $384,000 $122,773
    23 607 Gravier INTERNATIONAL HOUSE LLC 9/25/1997 $0
    24 609 Gravier INTERNATIONAL HOUSE LLC 9/25/1997 $0
    25 316 St Charles Ave PHI NEW O, LLC, ET AL. 12/2/2005 $3,300,000 $330,000
    26 320 St Charles Av PHI NEW O, LLC, ET AL. 12/2/2005 $3,300,000 $0
    27 330 St Charles Ave PHI NEW O, LLC 12/2/2005 $3,300,000 $0
    28 309 Magazine John Cummings 2/7/2007 $145,000
    29 C 544 Esplanade Ave Sean Cummings 3/3/2004 $1,500,000 $150,000
    30 601 Frenchmen St Sean Cummings 15-Oct-02 $150,000 $15,000
    31 501 Elysian Fields Mercato Elisio LLC 7-Dec-08 $1,100,000 not showing
    32 D 2900 Chartres St MR. SEAN B CUMMINGS ETAL 3/12/1993 $150,000 $46,270
    33 3036 Chartres St Sean Cummings 7/20/1994 $421,000 $34,240
    34 E 2 Mazant St John Cummings 15-Jan-05 $825,000 $0
    35 3 Mazant St John Cummings 15-Jan-05 $825,000 $0
    36 626 Mazant St John Cummings 15-Jan-05 $825,000 $11,020
    37 4019 Chartres John Cummings 15-Jan-05 $825,000 $1,820
    38 4024 Royal St John Cummings 15-Jan-05 $825,000 $2,100
    39 4030 Royal John Cummings 15-Jan-05 $825,000 $6,560
    40 441 Gravier St ESKISTICS NO. 1 LLC 5/18/1995 $0 $0

  37. nolavenger

    tax bill numbers:

    102 102 013
    102 102 102
    102 102 105
    102 103 406
    102 103 405
    102 102 815
    102 103 510
    102 102 814
    103 101 002
    102 100 701
    102 100 801

    104100718
    102 102 016
    103 102 302
    000 000 000
    102 102 101
    104 100 702
    104 100 724
    105 100 726
    105 100 727
    105 100 914
    105101214
    105101201
    104 101 113
    104 101 113
    104 101 113
    104100907
    208 100 313
    37W 100 401

    39W 100 501
    39W 100 601
    39W 105 617
    39W 105 617
    39W 105 617
    39W 105 602
    39W 105 605
    39W 105 604
    105 100 727

  38. nolavenger

    Sale Date Sale Price tax bill $
    5/3/2002 $360,000 $37,613
    12/19/2001 $1,750,000 $0
    12/19/2001 $1,750,000 $0
    7-Jul-88 $398,000 $19,270
    7-Jul-88 $398,000 $18,385
    7-Jul-88 43857 $1,466
    7-Jul-88 $42,880 $6,038
    7-Jul-88 $43,857 $835
    8/1/1990 $420,000 $64,369
    4/22/1988 $150,000 $18,231
    4/5/2001 $0 $103,526

    3/18/1992 $130,000 $0
    4/16/2004 $0 $0
    8/10/1995 $960,000 $0
    1/11/2000 $0 $0
    12/19/2001 $1,750,000 $0
    3/15/1973 $0 $12,500
    0000000 $00000000000 $61,452
    12/8/1998 $200,000 $0
    5/18/1995 $0 $0
    8/2/2001 $384,000 $122,773
    9/25/1997 $0
    9/25/1997 $0
    12/2/2005 $3,300,000 $330,000
    12/2/2005 $3,300,000 $0
    12/2/2005 $3,300,000 $0
    2/7/2007 $145,000
    3/3/2004 $1,500,000 $150,000
    15-Oct-02 $150,000 $15,000
    7-Dec-08 $1,100,000 not showing
    3/12/1993 $150,000 $46,270
    7/20/1994 $421,000 $34,240
    15-Jan-05 $825,000 $0
    15-Jan-05 $825,000 $0
    15-Jan-05 $825,000 $11,020
    15-Jan-05 $825,000 $1,820
    15-Jan-05 $825,000 $2,100
    15-Jan-05 $825,000 $6,560
    5/18/1995 $0 $0

  39. The property at 626 Mazant was purchased for $825,000. – WOW

  40. Interesting… the link for the NOBC website appears dead. It leads to a site that doesn’t load. Here’s a link to a larger map…

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mstyborski/3758587670/sizes/l/

  41. According to the RTC website, Norman Francis no longer sits on the Board of the New Orleans Building Corporation. The Board Members now listed are Nagin, Clarkson, Willard-Lewis, and Fielkow. Sean Cummings is the CEO and Jenifer Zurik is the project manager.

    http://www.reinventingthecrescent.org/about/

    I did some additional digging and there are more properties associated with the Cummings Clan:
    John J Cummings III also owns 2 and 3 Mazant, both bought in 2005 which, along with 4024 and 4030 Royal and 4019 Chartres, make up half of the square block bordered by Mazant, Chartres, Bartholemew and Royal.

    He is also the agent and manager of CGCD Enterprises, LLC at 1040 S Peters, a “business services” company.

    Sean Cummings’ International House comprises 4 addresses: 214 Camp, 523, 607 and 609 Gravier. Additionally, his Ekistics, Inc umbrella corporation comprises 329 and 733 Tchoupitoulas and 441 Gravier. Ekistics oversees Loft523, International House, Entrepreneurs Row, Kingsway and National Rice Mill Lofts.

    Cummings recently added (in 2010) 522 Montegut to the National Rice Mill Lofts corporation of which he is the agent. NRML (2900 Chartres) comprises the entire square block surrounded by Clouet, Montegut, Chartres and the river plus the entire block of the other side of Montegut from the river to Chartres.

    Kingsway is the former Kingsway Studios located at 544 Esplanade.

    Entrepreneurs Row is located at 220 Camp which doesn’t show up in a search of the NO assessors website, but is most probably tied to International House.

    In all, that adds an additional 11 properties owned or managed by Sean and John which are directly inside the RIC plan.

    And something else that I’m certain is completely coincidental: the entrances to the parks. Phase One (Crescent Park) stretches from Elysian Fields to Mazant Street with one of its three main entrances at Bartholemew Street, one block from the Cummings’ Mazant cluster (11,15,16 and additional properties noted in this post). A second entrance is located at Clouet directly beside the NRML cluster (1,2 and additional properties noted in this post) and the third will be at Esplanade Avenue (5,6). Eighty percent of these properties were purchased in 2005 AFTER Cummings’ appointment to the NOBC, but as I say, it’s probably purely coincidental.

    Lastly, there’s this disturbing thread:

    http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=173669

    Yes, the SkyscraperPage forum, “one of the most active skyscraper enthusiast communities on the web” is pimping the development including a link for “bids”. Despite FAQ #9 on the RIC website:

    “Will there be residential or other high-rise development in the Downriver Park?
    No. There will be no residential or other high-rise development in the Downriver Park.”

    Unless you count the National Rice Mill Lofts, right…?

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