From the French Quarter to the Garden District, the homes and buildings of New Orleans offer compelling architecture. Iron balconies adorn Creole townhomes. Private gardens beckon from behind their locked gates. Even New Orleans' so-called raised center-hall “cottages” that sit above the ground look quite grand, owing to their origins as the urban edition of the Louisiana's French Colonial plantation homes, according to architectural references.

Located just across the Mississippi River, in Gretna, La., the Calypso Bay Apartments is the newest addition to New Orleans' architectural traditions. Designed by Humphreys & Partners Architects, the 469-unit project recalls the Caribbean and the West Indies. “The client had done a lot of research, and he wanted a certain style,” says Greg Faulkner, president of the Dallas-based architectural firm, which turned to sherbet-like colors, two-story buildings, and regional touches like metal roofs, covered balconies, and large shutters—not just for show. “Some are operable,” Faulkner says.

The $35 million project, built at a density of 14 units per acre, opened in 2004. Targeted toward the renter-by-choice market, Calypso Bay offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, one- and two-car garages, generously sized kitchens, 10-foot ceilings, and a resort-style pool. “The market doesn't have anything like it,” Faulkner says. “Renters are signing leases for two years.”

TIME FOR A SWIM: Calypso Bay offers residents a resort-style pool.

BE COOL: Overhanging shutters and shaded verandahs bring shade and island flair to this apartment community for renters by choice near New Orleans.