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This page was last updated on Jan. 23, 2024.

The development of private student housing in Carrollton

It started in about 2018 and continues today—with long-time homeowners selling their houses and moving away as a result.

Private student housing developers buy properties near the Tulane and Loyola campuses, often evicting the long-term tenants from conventional rentals, and convert the neighborhood’s historic houses into dorm-like residences with “premium services”—marketing the apartments to college students at an enormous profit.

Most of these developers, like John Hamide, will camelback a house, gut the historic interior, and create as many bedrooms as possible. The rent per unit in these “doubles to dormitories” (D2Ds) is about $1,500-2,000/month per tenant—normally for four bedrooms, but often for five. (Rent numbers are current at Dec. 29, 2023.)

But other developers—like the Heidenbergs (based in Tampa and Washington, D.C.), Deb Singer/Marley Development (Ohio), and Laguna Ventures, LLC (originally of Southern California)—renovate the interior without adding camelbacks—and also without applying for work permits. A large single-family house that once held four or five bedrooms will be rented out as having seven. So the historic character of the exterior of the building is (incidentally) preserved—and the owner is spared the trouble of applying for permits and complying with the zoning ordinance. (Heidenberg Group Rental Properties removed the rental figures from their website in the summer of 2021; and on Sept. 17, 2022, Laguna Ventures was advertising a seven-bedroom rental at $10,000/month.)

Yet the high density violates zoning law, because the definition of “family” in the city’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO, Art. 26.6) allows for only four unrelated persons per unit. This is one of the the most frequent zoning violations for private student housing. Other common violations include paving over front and side yards, and parking in front yards.

Reporting these and other violations to Safety and Permits is potentially an important defense against overdevelopment in our neighborhoods.

Other new developers appear to be acquiring and developing our neighborhood as part of their real estate portfolios using data analytics—in the spirit if not on the scale of Big Tech. So a former analyst from Lucid—famously, New Orleans’ only unicorn—has been buying up properties at 838 Lowerline, 7417-19-21 Burthe, 7512 Maple, 7713 Hampson, and 1808 Lowerline—spending $5.6M in three years.

We are also concerned with issues of preservation in the partial-control Carrollton Historic District, and support the adoption of full-control districting. See more information about full- versus partial-control districting.

About Town of Carrollton Watch

Town of Carrollton Watch monitors and documents current development trends in the historic Carrollton neighborhood, including:

  • the purchase and conversion of historic houses to private student housing
  • the displacement and eviction of long-term residents to house college students
  • the effects of increasing density
  • the destruction of the architectural integrity of the neighborhood
  • the neighborhood’s response to development (HDLC appeals, BZA appeals, appeals to the Civil District Court, and media interviews), and
  • the ongoing search for a policy solution to the problem of development in Carrollton.

IZDs and Overlays: A short history of zoning ordinances in the neighborhood—March 5, 2020, to the present day

The first University Area Off-Street Parking Interim Zoning District (IZD) enacted on March 5, 2020)

Overdevelopment was temporarily addressed by the enactment on March 5, 2020, of the University Area Interim Zoning District (IZD) (CZO 19.4.A.11), now expired. An IZD is considered an emergency measure only.

The University Area Off-Street Parking Overlay (enacted on Nov. 18, 2021)

On March 25, 2021, the City Council approved Councilman Joe Giarrusso’s Motion M 21-102, sending the proposed University Area Off-Street Parking Overlay to the City Planning Commission for study. The Overlay greatly expands the territory of the University Area IZD, extending it to the boundaries the shown on this map, and contains exemptions (carve-outs) for owner-occupants and affordable housing.

On July 13, 2021, the CPC voted to deny a recommendation of the Overlay in its final staff report, which was due at the City Council by July 24. On October 7, the Overlay passed in the City Council. It was enacted in the City Council on November 18, 2021.

The University Area Off-Street Parking Overlay was codified as CZO Article 18.30. The University Area IZD that was enacted on March 5, 2020, terminated with the enactment of the Overlay.

Though the Overlay is called the “permanent version of the IZD,” in fact it is very different. Whereas the University Area IZD required an off-street parking space for any increase in bedrooms, the Overlay requires off-street parking only for new bedrooms in excess of four per unit.

Effectively, then, the Overlay merely reinforces the CZO’s definition of “family” (CZO Article 26.6) as four unrelated persons or fewer, which has heretofore proved unenforceable—and is perhaps unconstitutional. It remains to be seen whether the University Area Overlay will put us back at square one with respect to density and hyperdevelopment.

Another IZD (enacted on Oct. 6, 2022)

After a surge in D2D development, a second IZD was enacted on Oct. 6, 2022, per Motion M-22-449. The City Council vote was 6-0. (Helena Moreno was absent from the dais.)

The boundaries of the new IZD differed from the boundaries of the Overlay. They now encompass parts of Marlyville and Broadmoor—”on all lots bounded by: Cecil Street, a straight line connecting Cecil Street to Monticello Avenue, Monticello Avenue, to Leake Avenue, to River Drive, to Riverview Drive, to East Drive, to Tchoupitoulas Street, turning north on Jefferson Avenue, turning east on South Claiborne Avenue, turning north on Toledano Street, connecting to Washington Avenue, turning west on Earhart Boulevard, turning north on South Carrollton Avenue, turning west on Tulane Avenue/Airline Highway connecting to Palmetto Street, to Northline Street, to Monticello Avenue, to Cecil Street.”

(The description above includes changes of May 11, 2023, Amendment to Ordinance Cal. 34,161.)

On January 24, 2023, the City Planning Commission approved the amended IZD on a 7-2 vote—with the provision that Marlyville, Broadmoor, Hollygrove and Leonidas should be omitted from the ordinance.

On April 6, 2023, the amended IZD went back to the City Council, where it was unanimously approved as M-23-143. The final version included Marlyville, Broadmoor, Hollygrove and Leonidas. Further, minor amendments were codified on May 11, 2023. Enactment as the amended University Area Overlay followed on Oct. 5, 2023.

The Amended Overlay (motioned on Oct. 5, 2023; enacted on Dec. 14, 2023)

On Oct. 5, 2023, the amended University Area Off-street Parking Overlay (motion M-23-471 by CMs Giarrusso and Harris) was approved by the City Council. Any new construction or renovation with more than THREE bedrooms or more than 2.5 bathrooms will need to provide additional onsite parking spaces for each additional bedroom or obtain a variance; and must include a common room—among other provisions. In addition, the Council passed a motion (M-23-472) proposing a new design overlay for part of the Overlay area.

The amended parking overlay was enacted on Dec. 14, 2023.

Note: While the three-bedroom per unit limit is an improvement on the four-bedroom limit of the original Overlay (enacted as CZO 18.30 on Nov. 18, 2021), it is regressive by comparison with the necessary stringency of the IZDs. For this reason, Town of Carrollton Watch does not support the amended University Area Overlay.

Quick site map

Neighborhood news — announcements of developer purchases, City hearings (BZA, HDLC, City Council, etc.), calls for public comment, media reports, events, and other news involving the neighborhood.

Local media — a more compact list of reports and video from established local media outlets.

Report Report a zoning violation.

Properties — For information on individual houses under development as private student dormitories in Carrollton and surrounding neighborhoods, see:

Who we are

Town of Carrollton Watch, LLC, is a non-profit, independent, unaffiliated watchdog managed by Carrollton native S. P. Johnson—in consultation with individual neighbors and community groups. News and value-added data on this site are available at no cost, but “suitability” is not guaranteed—in case the City is looking to grab the data for its own purposes again. Special research requests and violations reporting on behalf of neighbors are also offered at no cost.

Please write me at contact@townofcarrolltonwatch.org.

Featured photos: Inset from the index of the Sanborn Fire Map of Oct. 1951, Volume Six; Meisel’s Fabrics neon sign, in situ at 8225 Oak (Jeffrey Martin, 2007)