Experts weigh in on dangers of attractive nuisances


Jackie Galli

A skateboard sits left behind in the back loading area of the former Schwegmann’s in New Orleans, LA. Abandoned buildings such as the old Schwegmann’s have entered into the culture of abandoned building exploration in New Orleans.

Maria DiFelice, Asst News Editor

Loyola students’ social media profiles feature photos of them posed at a variety of abandoned buildings around New Orleans.

But with both the recent death of a local teen over the summer and the buildings becoming known for hosting squatters and alluring crime, experts are now cautioning people against the illicit activity.

These buildings can be identified as “attractive nuisances,” as they often are intriguing to the young adults who choose to explore them. Now that the buildings are standing out as dangerous in the media, however, experts are motivated to educate people on the dangers.

Loyola senior visual communications major Torrie Shuff has visited several abandoned sites across the city, including the Market Street power plant, the abandoned Six Flags, and the Lindy Boggs medical center.

Shuff remains conflicted when it comes to whether or not people should visit these sites, saying that she thinks it depends on the location and the situation.

Shuff described how she and her friends would visit the sites to take photographs and “pick up fast food and go watch the sunset on the power plant’s roof.”

However, she does not take lightly the present dangers of visiting these sites, especially after the death of the Ben Franklin student. “It just takes one accident or a bad interaction with scrappers or homeless people around these sites. You have to be really aware when going to one of these places.”

Randy L. Willson, the president of Community and Design Solutions, has worked as a Southern architect and said that though abandoned buildings attract young people because of their structures, they also house great danger.

Willson explained how many cities already have laws in place to deal with abandoned buildings like the Market Street Power Plant, where Anthony Clawson, 18, fell more than 50 feet to his death this summer.

The city of New Orleans has also implemented legislation on this, saying that if the building is seen as a nuisance then the state has the right to gain possession of it. Some buildings in New Orleans, however, are still owned by private investors, who are responsible for upkeeping the buildings’ security on their own.

Lorretta Worters, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute, is familiar with the concerns about these buildings within her work, and she explained how in many cases there are no safety measures put into abandoned buildings. She said that many times, this can lead to violence in the neighborhood surrounding the buildings.

Wilson seconded Worters’ concern and said that there are ways to help mitigate the risks the nuisances may cause.

He highlighted how he helped multiple cities with abandoned buildings by boarding up the broken windows and putting pictures there instead. Willson said that those simple tasks are a “great start to fixing the problems that these abandoned buildings bring.”

“It takes really thoughtful and bold leadership to realize that. Unless they change some laws and some financial incentives, these buildings aren’t going to do anything but continue to deteriorate. And then we see all the negative consequences that have been talked about already,” Willson said.