Abandoned Moton Elementary School

THe appraiser made his estimation. The residents complained. He is now on the carpet.

An appraiser tapped by Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s administration to determine the worth of homes atop a former city dump — work that will ultimately result in city buyout offers to the site’s residents — must formally respond by Friday to criticism of his methods. New Orleans City Council members on Monday told appraiser Thorns Consulting to address a critique of its work by a second firm, ARC Appraisers, after residents of the Gordon Plaza subdivision decried Thorns’ approach and asked ARC for a second opinion. ARC found that Thorns failed to use comparable homes to find the value of Sheena Dedmond’s 2858-square-foot home, that he rushed the process and that he didn’t follow industry guidelines for such appraisals, according to a 14-page review. “We are choosing to submit this letter, versus a formal review, because now the city of New Orleans has the opportunity to problem solve the concerns regarding the sample appraisal before the remainder of the residents of Gordon Plaza are provided their long overdue offers,” Dedmond told council members at Monday’s Gordon Plaza Task Force meeting.


The residents wanted all the homes to be appraised by Thanksgiving.

Dedmond and other Gordon Plaza residents also demanded that the city appraise the remaining 60 homes in the neighborhood and extend buyout offers before Thanksgiving, though the council did not agree to that request. Some homeowners may not want to the city to appraise their homes, council member Eugene Green said. The council and Cantrell allotted $35 million this summer to relocate the residents of Gordon Plaza, a Desire-area subdivision that was built atop the former Agriculture Street landfill in the late 1970s, more than a decade after the landfill had closed. It was a step residents had long demanded; many complained of cancers and respiratory illnesses long before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified the land the neighborhood was built on as a toxic Superfund site in 1994. But before the city moves the residents, it must appraise each of their homes and issue buyout offers. That process came under fire this month after residents blasted the methods of Jim Thorns, the appraiser tapped for the job. Thorns has thus far completed a single appraisal, that of Dedmond’s home, which he valued at $358,000. He must respond to ARC’s concerns about his work before he continues, the council agreed Monday.

The appraiser said he need a week to appraise the house, he took a day.

Thorns expressed to Dedmond he would need a full week to appraise her home. However, when ARC examined his work, they noticed he did his evaluation of the property on the same day that he visited it. ARC also noted that the comparable homes Thorns used were about 30-40% smaller than Dedmond’s. Thorns said he could have the remaining homes appraised within a month, if he had complete cooperation from residents. Still, Green cautioned against setting a firm deadline for the job, saying there’s no guarantee all residents will agree to the appraisals. Angela Kinlaw, an organizer with Residents of Gordon Plaza, said the residents will provide a list of people who do want their homes appraised by Wednesday. “No one’s trying to drag this out. When you guys are sitting in your healthy homes of choice, cutting up your turkey on Thanksgiving, the residents of Gordon Plaza are going to have to contend with this,” Kinlaw said. “They should be able to go into their holiday season with some sense of clarity about what 2023 is going to look like for them.”

The next proposal to the Council will be to pay moving expenses.

Meanwhile, council member JP Morell said he plans to propose at Thursday’s council meeting a fund that would help residents with moving costs, which the city’s buyout offers don’t cover. He did not say when those funds would be allocated, or how much each resident will receive, and conceded that ultimately the city administration would be responsible for dispersing the money. The next meeting of the Gordon Plaza task force is at 2 p.m. Nov. 11.

If they pay moving expenses that ,\may make it easier to accept the appraisal. But I wonder how can you appraise a house on a toxic dump as that is a poor location! What do you compare it to – unless you ignore the dump.

Appraisers feet held to the fire