The City Planning Commission was especially enthusiastic over Docket 021/21 at this week’s meeting. “I want to thank you for making me cry at a CPC meeting,” said a smiling Commissioner Sue Mobley, seconding a motion to approve the developers’ request. After a round of enthusiastic “yeas,” Commissioner Kyle Wedberg said: “I’m very excited to make this unanimous.”
This unanimous vote was not for just any conditional use to permit a hotel with live entertainment in the LaSalle Street Overlay District, with nine provisos. It was for the Dew Drop Inn. The Dew Drop, the city’s leading Black music venue for three mid-century decades, holds a hallowed position in New Orleans cultural history, in rock ’n’ roll and rhythm-and-blues history, and in the hearts of many musicians.
The battle between Uptown residents and developers over doubles-to-dorms conversions continues to play out in municipal hearings over zoning decisions. “Doubles-to-dorms” refers to the conversion of homes intended for families into private dormitory-style housing for college students.?
The Board of Zoning Adjustments on June 6 denied two appeals from University area residents who stated the Department of Safety & Permits wrongly issued a zoning determination and a building permit for 636-40 Audubon St., a multi-family building at the corner of Hampson Street.?
The first appeal was filed by architect Collette Creppell, a longtime neighbor of the property and a former executive director of the City Planning Commission. Creppell questioned the validity of the developer’s statements on the building’s previous unit and bedroom count and stated that “going from eleven (claimed) bedrooms to a proposed sixteen bedrooms under an interpretation of Existing Multi-Family is a distortion of the zoning code.”
The BZA staff maintained that unit count, not bedroom count, determines the density of a building and that Safety & Permits’ determination was in line with the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. The Board of Zoning Adjustments agreed, voting unanimously to deny the appeal.?
In the second appeal, neighbor Keith Hardie objected to the building permit for the rental property that an LLC controlled by developers John P. Hamide and Preston Tedesco purchased from Riverlake Properties in January 2020. The permit was granted by the director of the Department of Safety & Permits to allow the developers to turn 636-40 Audubon from a five-unit, 11-bedroom house into a four-unit, 16-bedroom house.?
The City Council backed a plan to approve a controversial new building on Magazine Street in the Irish Channel while requiring further design changes to the three-story mixed-use building. The Historic District Landmarks Commission had gave the project its conceptual approval in April. The Garden District Association then filed an appeal asking the City Council to overturn the HDLC’s decision. In the appeal, Garden District Association President Frank Tessier quotes liberally from the HDLC’s guidelines for new construction, pointing out requirements — such as aligning balconies, roof ridges and other elements with adjacent buildings — that he states were not followed by the commission when it approved the design for 2230 Magazine. The appeal states the building is too large for the site, despite guidelines that require compatibility in size and massing.
On Monday (May 23), weather permitting, the city’s Department of Public Works contractor, Boh Brothers Construction Co., will begin construction on the Martin Luther King Jr. Patch Mill Overlay project, extending from St. Charles Avenue to South Claiborne Avenue. Parking restrictions and temporary changes to traffic patterns along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will start at 7:30 a.m. and will remain in effect throughout the duration of the project. Construction crews will be working the full length of the travel lane in each direction from St. Charles to South Claiborne.
The Business Council of New Orleans and the River Region applauds Mayor Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council, Entergy?and the Sewerage and Water Board for working together to advance one of the most critical infrastructure projects for New Orleans. The new S&WB power substation will greatly enhance the reliability of the City’s water-related infrastructure, including pumps and pump stations, and reduce the chances of boil water advisories and flooding resulting from bad weather events. This is a major milestone in creating the critical infrastructure necessary to ensure a prosperous future for New Orleans.
Construction on the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Patch, Mill and Overlay project is scheduled to begin in May and the city expects it to continue for about 14 months. The city is holding a pre-construction community meeting on Tuesday (April 26) from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Allie Mae Williams Multi-Service Center second-floor meeting room at 2020 Jackson Ave. See here to register. A copy of the presentation will be sent to all registrants and uploaded to roadwork.nola.gov/projects before?the meeting. Protected bike lanes will be added in both directions of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
In a divided vote held after two months of hearings, the Historic District Landmarks Commission gave the green light to a new mixed-use building on Magazine Street in the Irish Channel. Their April 6 ruling will now go before the City Council, which could overturn the vote. The Garden District Association has filed an appeal, GDA Executive Director Shelley Landrieu told Uptown Messenger. Garden District, Irish Channel and Lower Garden District residents came out in force to oppose the plans for the three-story 15,000-square-foot building planned for an empty lot at 2230 Magazine St. The HDLC received 29 letters of opposition to the plans and one letter of support, according to city records.
The City Council voted Thursday (March 24) to uphold the Historic District Landmarks Commission’s approval of a developer’s request to raze a house on Henry Clay Avenue in the Uptown historic district. The demolition had been challenged by preservation advocate Susan Johnson. The HDLC staff backed the demolition request in its report to the commission and its testimony to the City Council. It’s rare that the HDLC staff support a demolition, according to Eleanor Burke, the commission’s deputy director. “Once historic resources or buildings that contribute to the heritage of a community are destroyed,” Burke told the council, “it is generally impossible to reproduce their design, texture, materials, details and their special character and interest in the neighborhood.”
With music ringing out from speakers on the basketball court, tasty food from local eateries Peewee’s Crabcakes and Heard Dat Kitchen and a variety of local institutions with tables full of swag, the city’s first Neighborhood Cares initiative event brought the party to the Keller Community Center. The event organized by Hands On New Orleans and the Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office kicked off the initiative that is part vaccine drive, part job and resource fair, and part neighborhood cleanup.?
At the many tables laden with swag, residents talked with representatives from city offices and nonprofits talked to residents about how to access services.?
Nola Ready, New Orleans’ disaster preparedness agency, had a table, as did Nola 311 and RoadWork Nola.? Roadwork Nola workers had tablets at the ready at the table and were showing attendees how to use the website to check on construction and street repair in their area, and contact the agency about concerns.?
There are several Roadwork Nola projects active in Central City, and the website shows the construction areas and road closures. Residents can also call 504-658-ROAD to get information or communicate with the agency. At a neighboring table, workers from 311 were at the ready to explain how to use the city’s non-emergency number.? Orleans Parish residents can call 311 to report infrastructure issues like potholes and streetlight outages; problems with trash and recycling, mosquitoes and rodents and other issues. The service connects them to the relevant agency.?
Nola Ready workers surveyed residents about disaster preparedness as they gear up for hurricane season, officially from June 1 to Nov.
Thirteen year-old Byron “Little B” Kelly Jr. was just a normal kid who enjoyed haircuts and football. Kelly’s decision to walk to the corner store Tuesday evening (March 15) inextricably placed him in harm’s way. Unfortunately, Kelly’s life — like those of many other victims of senseless acts of violence — ended far too soon. Despite multiple marches, candlelight vigils and impassioned pleas by the public, the New Orleans Police Department under the direction of Superintendent Shaun Ferguson has not been able to reverse the crime epidemic. Carjackings may have slowed during Carnival but could spike again anytime.
From the Mayor’s Engagement Office
The Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office announced it will regretfully postpone the Neighborhood Cares Day in Central City due to inclement weather. The re-scheduled event will be held next Saturday (March 19) at the Keller Community Center, 1814 Magnolia St., from 9 a.m. to noon. City departments, residents, churches, schools and businesses in Central City will come together to beautify and clean the neighborhood. Residents will also be able to enjoy free food and music, free COVID-19 tests and vaccines, job opportunities, a resource fair and more. The Central City Neighborhood Cares Day is held in partnership with HandsOn New Orleans, PeeWee’s Crabcakes, Heard Dat Kitchen, New Orleans East Hospital and CORE New Orleans.