Real estate key to parish growth

Mar 20th, 2012 | By | Category: Top Story

Guy Williams, CEO of Gulf Coast Bank spoke to the St. Bernard Chamber of Commerce last week outlining one of the key components to the parish’s economic recovery— a stable real estate market. Picture above, from left, are Chamber members and officials: Fred Sigur Jr., Jerry Calgano, Stephen Reuther, guest Tracie Lewis, speaker Guy Williams, and Chairwoman Jodie Lohfink. 

During the March 7 Chamber of Commerce After Hours event, Guy Williams, President and CEO of Gulf Coast Bank, gave his expert opinion on how to best stimulate St. Bernard’s economy: real estate. 

Williams explained that one of biggest factors to New Orleans’ economic comeback is the large number of young people moving there. Although St. Bernard will have a harder time attracting the younger demographic, he says the parish can attract families looking to get more for their money. 

According to Williams, lots in Lakeview— an area comparable to St. Bernard— are almost back to pre-Katrina prices despite the bad flooding. He said families are drawn to the area for the good schools and safe neighborhoods, which are two things St. Bernard Parish also has. 

“Go after families, show them the schools, the free education that’s wonderful. You could have spectacular quality of life for little money,” Williams said. “We share a border with one of the most dangerous cities in the country and don’t have nearly the amount of issues.”

Additionally, Williams said the multi-family developments are something the parish should warm to.

“Big apartments don’t look as bad as we feared,” said Williams. “Developers tell us that they’re 70 percent full of people ready to rent,” he stated. “From a bank perspective rents have stabilized and owners of rental properties say occupancy is stable.”

In terms of getting more homes built in the parish, Williams says it is currently very difficult to sell raw land and lots in St. Bernard. 

“Lot prices have been down since 2006, but commercial property is doing very well,” he stated. “The Judge Perez corridor is filling up and there are a lot of national companies coming here.”

All in all, Williams stressed that we need to not shy away from competing with neighboring parishes for both commercial and residential development. 

“We have a wonderful story to tell, we just have to let other folks know.”

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