Options Are Key to the Evolving Home Market

As the home market evolves, lot “options” become key.

Though swamps and bayous are among the signature features of life in southern Louisiana, for a growing base of home-buyers, water may mean they feel they have fewer options. Complicating matters further, Realtor Magazine now estimates that the two big markets in the coming years couldn’t be more different—millennials looking for their first or second home, and baby boomers looking for a retirement-era change.

“For the business I’m doing, there’s not a lot of supply,” David Waltemath, the developer behind Parks of Plaquemines in Belle Chasse said. “That supply is really, really restricted by wetlands.”

Finding good home options comes down to what those like Waltemath, a second-generation developer, do with limited land options. Many create simple subdivisions — laying down streets, divvying up lots — but plan for little else.

Developers such as Waltemath, however, say the key to this new real estate market is to not just create homes, but create communities.

In the Parks of Plaquemines community, for example, Phase 3 offers three different lot sizes, which range from compact “villa” or “garden” lots (at approximately 60 by 140 feet), to expansive “estate” lots (at approximately 150 by 250 feet). Waltemath is careful to note, however, that size does not imply value or cost, but rather a lifestyle choice. The type of home on these lots varies according to taste.

“So we’ll have a villa in one of our neighborhoods that might be $700,000, but we might also have a villa that might be $375,000,” Waltemath said. “It’s about lifestyle — one might be an empty-nester, and one might be a young family.” He added that the Parks’ structured Architectural Review Committee protects the integrity and cohesiveness of the community and strengthens the owners’ individual investments, while allowing maximum design flexibility.

The result is an often unavailable matrix of options for home buyers. The range of options for baby boomers, in particular, comes at a time when the face of retirement is changing. The National Association of Home Builders notes that people are retiring later and staying active for longer. Planning for “aging-in-place” often includes a wide array of considerations, such as walkability, “flex space” for a home office and easy-to-maintain exteriors. Meanwhile, a survey of millennials from Realtor.com finds that, while the under-36 crowd will lead the way in home-buying this year, nearly 30 percent of these recession-era adults will base their decision on finding a home easily within their budget.

Providing options not only attracts a wide range of buyers, but also helps create “neighborhoods.” Waltemath said that The Parks of Plaquemines — unlike typical subdivisions that cater to a narrow demographic and offer a single lot size — offers buyers for Phase 3 a community that is much more than just a bedroom. Retirees can come to know newlyweds, or young professionals looking to start a family can intermingle with budding families.

“(Those options) give us the ability to have prices that range from the upper 300’s to over a million,” Waltemath said. “You have the opportunity to have multiple generations of one family (in the same community).”

Another mistake Waltemath sees developers make is in how much they allocate for green spaces, such as parks, trails and playgrounds. The rush to get as many homes per square acre from an investment often leaves unsuspecting buyers encased by surrounding lawns and fences. Buyers looking for a home in a development should be careful to consider green space, especially in the early days before every home is built. Trails and common spaces add immeasurable value, ensuring that even those buyers who opt for small lots can enjoy numerous outdoor activities—from family walks to fishing trips—without getting in the car.

“(At The Parks), one might say ‘There’s a lot of parks and trails, I don’t need a great big home site, I’ll build on a (villa-sized lot),” Waltemath said. “(Green space) gives a lot of options, unlike a subdivision where every lot is maybe 90 by 140 (feet).”

Waltemath said the old adage for a good home — location, location, location — shouldn’t be neglected, either. As developers scramble to find space for new homes, it’s still important for buyers to consider where their home sits in relation to the rest of their life. Waltemath considers himself “lucky” to have acquired the hundreds of acres that comprise The Parks of Plaquemines. The location, he said, is only a short drive from the city and has a top-rated school district. Coupled with low taxes and a virtually flood-free area, developments such as The Parks quickly become an attractive option for virtually any lifestyle or budget.

“The thing that makes The Parks special is the pool and the amenity package,” Waltemath notes of his development. “But also (there’s) the benefits that come out of Plaquemines Parish.”

Whether it’s a big home on a small lot, or a big lot with a little home, options are the key. Buyers should increasingly look for developments that understand the value of cultivating a whole community. And that means green space, variably-sized lots and shared amenities.


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The Best of Both Worlds Near Belle Chasse, Louisiana

Visit the 2015 Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans’ Parade of Homes at The Parks of Plaquemines!

Making a decision about where to live in a large metropolitan area like New Orleans frequently comes down to a compromise between convenience and lifestyle. The Parks of Plaquemines, just across the parish line in Belle Chasse, is the perfect blend of both. Only 10.2 miles from the CBD, the atmosphere is a welcome blend of living in alandscaped-front-entrance-2015 community with the feel of a nature preserve and living in a community that is close and convenient to everything that city life has to offer. The Parks of Plaquemines truly gives residents the “best of both worlds.”

The private neighborhood is carved from a wooded area just off of Woodland Highway (State Route 406), minutes from the Intracoastal Bridge. Aptly named for its rustic, organic surroundings, The Parks of Plaquemines features natural amenities like parks and wide open green spaces, as well as man-made amenities. A fully engineered, planned walking trail system surrounds the entire community.  There’s a tot lot playground, complete with tire swing, and a community pool with cabana. The well-appointed, gated entrance and streets throughout the community have lovely finishing touches like matching mailboxes and quaint streetlights. A welcoming and charming curb appeal is evident to even the casual, first-time visitor.

For the homeowner who acknowledges the importance of both the bottom line and the lifestyle, The Parks of tot-lot-playgroundPlaquemines is situated just across the Plaquemines Parish line in an area with lower tax rates, levee protection and excellent schools. FEMA has designated The Parks as Flood Zone C with solid savings on rising insurance rates.  In fact, it’s hard to imagine a better investment and value for one’s home buying dollar this close to the New Orleans metro area.

Under the direction and guidance of Developer David Waltemath (who is widely known for his work in English Turn, The Estates of Northpark and Bedico Creek), The Parks of Plaquemines has a solid growth plan and is an upscale, master-planned community.

The Parks offers two types of home sites – Traditional Neighborhood Lots and low-maintenance Garden Home Lots. Traditional lots come in many different sizes and are suitable for family-sized or estate homes. Views vary from private nature views to water and lake views. Garden home lots are offered together in The Villas section.  All home plans are required to be traditional Southern architecture and must be reviewed by professionals on the Design Review Committee prior to construction.

Garden home lots are priced from the low $70’s to the low $80’s. Lot sizes are typically about a quarter acre.  Low maintenance garden homes range from 2,000 square feet of living area to over 3,000 square feet and range in price from the mid $350’s to over $500,000. These luxurious homes are appointed with gorgeous interior and exterior amenities.


Traditional lot prices range from the $90’s to the $130’s. Homes in The Parks of Plaquemines are tastefully designed, custom homes built by qualified and respected local builders and are priced up to $1 million+. These preferred builders can design and build homes on a lot purchased by the homeowner or homeowners can use their own plans and builder with approval by the Architectural Control Committee.  At the Parks, new homes can be “as big as your imagination!”

So, if you’re pondering the options for a well-developed, aesthetically appealing neighborhood with great lot choices, beautifully crafted homes, and amenities not found in any other subdivisions close to it in Plaquemines Parish, be sure to visit The Parks of Plaquemines.

The Parks will be showcasing a spectacular $1 million+ home in this year’s Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans Parade of Homes. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this charming community. See for yourself the beauty, the convenience, and the value of building or buying at the Parks of Plaquemines. Bring your Realtor, if you like, they’re always welcome at The Parks and they value their long-term relationships with the real estate community.

More information about the best of both worlds near Belle Chasse, Louisiana is available by e-mailing Info@TheParksLifestyle.com or calling 504-364-2350.

Visit the 2015 Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans’ Parade of Homes at The Parks of Plaquemines!

Plaquemines Parish School District Moves to 8th Highest in Louisiana

Climbing a record 5 places from the 2012 – 2013 school year to the 2013 – 2014 school year, the Plaquemines Parish school district moved from 13th in the state of Louisiana to 8th in the state.   The school district is graded on school test scores, and in addition to making such an amazing jump in ranking, the school district itself also achieved enough points to move it from a B grade last year to an A grade this year.  The school’s 2014 annual district performance score was 104.8 overall out of 150 compared to a 95 last year.  Even though Common Core standards are being hotly debated and even set aside by some state government, the Plaquemines Parish school district had gone ahead and implemented the standards, and the schools achieved high scores despite the new system.

Zeroing in on the best performing schools in the district the report found that 3 out of 7 school systems in Plaquemines Parish received an A grade on their performance scores as well. Belle Chasse Primary School became the 5th best school in the New Orleans area based on the scores of non-magnet schools and placed 17th best in New Orleans overall.  Not to be outdone, the Belle Chasse Academy charter elementary and middle school was just .1 point behind Belle Chasse Primary School in the scores – Belle Chasse Primary received 115 points, and Belle Chasse Academy scored 114.9.

For Plaquemines Parish public schools both Belle Chasse Primary and Boothville-Venice Elementary School showed about a 10-point improvement year-over-year.  The biggest improvement in the Plaquemines Parish school district was the 21.6 point increase of scoring for Phoenix High School which moved from a D grade last year to a B grade this year.  You can search for and view individual schools in Plaquemines Parish by visiting this link.

“Plaquemines Parish ranked in the top 20 districts on growth in students at Basic and above and the top (sic) 10 districts on growth in students at Mastery and above,” the annual report said.

While district performance scores were released one day earlier, teacher evaluations showed that maintaining high expectations for teachers, especially in leadership were the key to success in Plaquemines Parish.  Teacher evaluations are based 50% on student academic progress and the rest on actual classroom observation.  The report claims that the high standards for leadership and results placed on the teachers in Plaquemines Parish directly resulted in the school district’s 10% increase in test scores.  The report went on to say that 40% of parish teachers were rated highly effective, 55% were scored as effective: proficient, 3% as effective: emerging, and only the last 2% as ineffective.

If you are considering moving to the Greater New Orleans area, consider Plaquemines Parish for its growing and continually improving school district as well as lower taxes, and the convenient proximity to the City of New Orleans – just 10.2 miles to the Central Business District.  To purchase a new home in the area, Visit The Parks of Plaquemines by scheduling a tour.  Call 504-364-2350 or E-mail Info@TheParksLifestyle.com.

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Belle Chasse & The Parks of Plaquemines to See a Reduction in Flood Insurance Requirements

Once New FEMA Flood Maps Are Adopted, The Entire Subdivision of the Parks of Plaquemines Will Be Taken Completely Out of the Flood Zone, Insuring that New Homes Buyers & Our Residents Will Have the Lowest Flood Insurance Rates Possible!

Some greater New Orleans residents may soon see a decrease or complete removal of the flood insurance requirements on their insurance policies.  New maps published by FEMA in January, 2013, show that parts of Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles, and Plaquemines Parishes have seen a lowering of Base Flood Elevations (BFE).  BFE is the elevation on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Special Flood Hazard Areas.  The FIRM shows the water surface elevation which results from a flood and bases its Zones on the one percent chance of equaling or exceeding that water surface level in any given year. While southern Plaquemines Parish will experience an increase in BFE because parts of the parish are located outside of the new levee system, Belle Chasse is one area of Plaquemines Parish which will experience a significant reduction in or the total removal of flood insurance requirements for its residents.  With improvements to the Mississippi River levee, the BFE in Belle Chasse dropped from 1.5 feet above sea level to 0-3 feet below sea level.

The reason that the Belle Chasse area is getting the good news of the reduction or removal of flood insurance is because of an agreement between the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA after Hurricane Katrina.  The levee system that has been constructed in the Greater New Orleans area has been built, complete with new closing floodgates, with the parameters for a 100-year storm.  Because of this intense and productive work, their efforts have resulted in residents in The Parks of Plaquemines to “breathe easier” when it comes to the potential risk of flood damage to their homes.  For more information about this announcement or to view the flood maps, click on the links below.

Plaquemines Parish Flood Map
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