VCPORA is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the preservation and protection of the Vieux Carre as an international historic treasure, a major cultural and economic asset, and a living residential neighborhood that is valued and respected by all.
Organized in the 1920s and incorporated as a non-profit corporation on June 8, 1938, the organization dedicated itself in our state charter to the “preservation, restoration, beautification and general betterment of the Vieux Carré”. Our advocacy efforts can be broken down into four categories:
Zoning and Land Use
The Master Plan and Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance should be applied clearly and consistently. Any zoning changes must be considered in terms of a long-term benefit of the entire neighborhood, rather than the short-term benefit of narrow interests.
There should be a proper balance between the needs of residents and the needs of commerce. All property owners, businesses, and residents have a right to enjoy their property without infringing on their neighbor’s right or ability to do the same.
All city zoning and land use policies touch the Vieux Carré. The Vieux Carré exists as part of a city-wide and regional economy and is similarly impacted by all zoning and land use decisions made by the City and the State. It is important to partner with other neighborhoods and citywide organizations in order to be part of the larger urban preservation framework.
Public space must be protected. It is vital to maintain public parkland and discourages the conversion of these same spaces to private or commercialized use.
Architecture and Infrastructure
Once lost, gone forever. Demolition is permanent and so special care must be taken to preserve and protect these important and fragile treasures.
Preservation does not mean frozen in time. The Vieux Carré is a three-hundred-year-old living neighborhood, and as such, it has evolved over time to meet the needs of its residents. Changes, modifications, and alterations are a natural part of urban growth, as is the redevelopment of vacant spaces with new construction that is sensitive to issues of scale, proportion, and style as they relate to the Vieux Carré.
Infrastructure maintenance must be addressed for future sustainability. The Vieux Carré must address its crumbling streets, sidewalks, sewerage, electrical wiring, and other infrastructure if it to survive as a heavy-use neighborhood.
Historic preservation is economic development. The preservation of places and buildings promotes job creation, increases residential opportunities, encourages and nurtures artistic and cultural growth, and attracts heritage tourism, among other public benefits.
Sustainable Tourism/Managed Tourism
The Vieux Carré is important to all of New Orleans and Louisiana: As a historic district, as a unique residential neighborhood, as an economic driver, and as a source of substantial tax revenue, the Vieux Carré accrues benefits to the entire state of Louisiana.
An authentic residential experience is key. Policy decisions that prioritize a high-quality and active residential experience before the experience of transient visitors will ultimately benefit both.
Preservation efforts must address the cultural economy. Musicians, artists, restauranteurs, service industry professionals, tour guides, and many others contribute greatly to the ambiance and attractiveness of the Vieux Carré, and their interests must be thoughtfully considered.
Tourism must be effectively managed in the Vieux Carré. Key goals include reducing numbers of bodies without damaging the economy, elevating the tourism experience while still catering to all pocketbooks, reducing the impacts of vehicles, redirecting tourism revenues to needed infrastructure and cultural contributors, and rigorous enforcement of all codes and ordinances.
The threat of unmanaged tourism: The income being generated by the increase in post-Katrina tourism has failed to generate a commensurate rise in the standard of living for many New Orleanians, as wages have stagnated while property values have risen. It is the responsibility of the tourism promotion industry to set new metrics that define success because the current focus on visitor numbers alone damages the very product they are selling.
The danger of an “anything goes” mentality: The mentality and promotion of an “anything goes” mentality lax oversight and enforcement of issues such as code violations contribute to this unrestrained atmosphere, making the Vieux Carré appear unmanaged, thereby challenging efforts to preserve and protect the neighborhood.
Sustainable tourism is an international movement: New Orleans must actively and visibly participate in sustainable tourism movement alongside cities such as Venice, Bali, Bogota, and draw all relevant lessons and models from other cities around the world.
Expanded Residency and Improved Residential Quality of Life
Residents are crucial to the long-term viability of the Vieux Carré. They take responsibility and assume the costs for maintaining the historic buildings, and are the most passionate advocates for the preservation and protection of the Vieux Carré.
Inclusivity must be a lens that is rigorously applied to preservation efforts. The steadily rising cost of living in the Vieux Carré has resulted in less diversity in its residential population.
Expanding full-time residency requires a concerted effort. Many pressures, including short-term rentals, unmanaged tourism, real estate costs, the lack of available parking, costs of maintaining historic structures, and public safety concerns, deter residential recruitment and retention. It is critical to identify and promote creative solutions to expanding residency in the Vieux Carré.
Unmanaged commercialization challenges residential capacity. It is important to recognize and the commodification of residential space in order to reverse their impact and ensure the Vieux Carré can be a living neighborhood with low vacancy rates and a high residential quality of life.