Dec 222010
 

A new studio for Romney Pilates is under construction on Magazine Street. (Photo by Sabree Hill, UptownMessenger.com)

A meeting of Magazine Street-area neighbors concerned about the construction of a new Pilates studio has been postponed temporarily, an organizer said Wednesday morning.

Romney Pilates, currently located on Magazine near Amelia, is planning to move farther uptown to a new site across from the Whole Foods supermarket. Construction has already begun, but the design of the new building has drawn the interest of several neighborhood groups.

The announcement of a meeting about the Romney project originally set for today set off a flurry of email alerts and conversations Wednesday among members of the Audubon-Riverside, Hurstville and Upper Hurstville neighborhood associations, which together represent most of the households Jefferson Avenue and Audubon Park, from St. Charles Avenue to the river. The meeting was also scheduled to include representatives of City Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s and state Rep. Neil Abramson’s offices, according to the notice.

Tonight’s meeting, however, has been postponed likely until next week, because work has been halted on the building, said Kristine Froeba, one of the meeting’s organizers.

The city issued a stop-work order on the project “due to an issue with the number of parking spaces,” said Deborah Langhoff, Guidry’s chief of staff.

The Romney project has received considerable support in the past. Gambit lauded its current location’s design when Romney won “Best Place to Take a Pilates Class” in 2009’s “Best of New Orleans.” “The updated design is striking: recycled resin wall panels, cork flooring, a bamboo-garden lounge and a bevy of the latest Pilates and exercise equipment,” Gambit wrote.

The studio’s application for a reduction of city parking requirements in August 2009 also included letters of support from several nearby retailers and many of the studio’s clients, including Drew and Brittany Brees.

“As Uptown residents we feel they embody all of what our beloved city is and should be,” the couple wrote. “Romney Studio understands the importance of rebuilding in New Orleans while keeping the integrity and charm of the Uptown area.”

  • Kristine Froeba

    The entire concept is completely illogical.

    Why anyone with sense would even consider building this “architectural” albatross adjacent to shotgun houses on a quaint historic boutique row requires suspension of disbelief. Never mind that the architect went missing the day scale and harmony were taught at his alma mater.

    Alternately, let’s discuss this from a logical standpoint, relocating a business that requires 20 parking spaces where there were already NONE available to current home owners or retail costumers, is beyond reason.

    Romney KNOWS her mat classes have 10 spaces, her reformer classes up to 6, plus 7-8 employees.

    One supposes they might believe they could also install elevated parking on the threatened third story of her bunker.

    What is also galling is that the people she had sign papers vouching for her bunker are mostly her relatives or those who don’t live within a mile of the site.

    No polite words for the Audubon Place resident who thought it would be an asset to OUR area, but certainly not her own. Pure selfishness run amuck.

    I highly recommended Safire Pilates studio, they don’t disparage the neighbors. I received an email from Romney herself, whereby several times, she insulted the neighbors who expressed concern. Concern for the area in which I was born and raised does not make me or my neighbors” disgruntled” or “sulky”.

    Too much!

    • Mimi Robinson Bowen

      The more of these petty accusations that progressive, fair minded people see in our City, the less likely they are to invest in New Orleans. Erin Romney and her pilates studio is a successful local business that needs our support. She is INVESTING in New Orleans. We are lucky to have her and need more like her. The City needs to stand up to it’s approval of this project and dismiss the stop work order NOW!

  • Monica

    The construction of this new pilates studio destroys the integrity & charm of this neighborhood and would actually become an eyesore. While there is something to be said for rebuilding New Orleans, the “rebuilding” should respect the historical charm of such a cultural place. Parking is at best minimal in this neighborhood. The construction of such a monstrosity will make the parking situation even worse.

  • Courrèges

    What is everyone complaining about? This building is going to be next to a contemporary retail strip and across the street from a gigantic supermarket (Whole Foods) that was formerly a streetcar barn. There’s no architectural consistency whatsoever to this block of Magazine, and such objections sound hollow and self-serving.

    As for parking, yes, parking is already minimal in the area. That’s why this is a low-impact project. Since parking is already scarce in the area, the effect of adding an additional business will be minimal. People already normally have to search for parking and walk a couple of blocks, and that won’t change after this. In any event, intelligent people should recognize that there is no right to street parking. Anybody who lives or works near Magazine Street should have recognized long ago that parking is scarce. Also, why should new businesses moving in have to justify themselves and build parking lots by mandate of law when existing businesses get to free ride off the city and use street parking exclusively?

    This is one of the major problems with this city — nagging busybodies with little interest in a project and vapid complaints stroll in and start acting as if they should have carte blanche over another person’s property. They trump up architectural objections that amount to little more than personal prejudice and have the unrealistic expectation that every new business will provide excessive amounts of off street parking. The recovery of this city is constantly being held up by this arrogant attitude.

  • Joy Bollinger

    The Romney Pilates Center is going up on a formerly empty, rubbish-filled lot next to a house that should have been a tear-down. How charming is this area?

    It is easy to complain and critize, but very difficult and risky to develop and build. I don’t see any property development coming from the few critics who think they should have control over other peoples’ property. These are probably the same critics of the Whole Foods addition to uptown and the rejuvenation of Audubon golf course, both trememdous additions to the neighborhoods.

    I applaud the construction of this pilates enter on Magazine Street, love it’s design–especially that it includes parking which most of the businesses in that area do not have–and think its architect is visionary. That this project was halted at such a late stage of its development makes a travesty of the city’s permitting process. All building permits were applied for and granted prior to the beginning of construction, including public hearings and variance applications. Any objections should have been addressed before construction began. That the city should halt construction near it’s completion is unfair and –I believe– highly unethical. Who gets treated this way when trying to contribute to the city’s economy and rebuilding?

    I applaud the bravery of this young couple who are contributing in a positive way to our city. I’m sorry for the financial burden being inflected upon them by this halt in construction. legal expenses, etc. Shame on the city for this damaging action. As for the few busybodies who think that their opinion is so important, maybe they should go develop their own property or just mind their own business.

  • POR

    I am sad to see the positive energy created by erin and her business go under attack. I pray that all involved will find peace in their lives so that everyone will exude the positive energy needed in order for New Orleans to evolve into the place where people want to move, start businesses and raise a family.

  • This article reached more than 20 comments today, and the conversation was reaching an increasingly antagonistic level when I realized that a vast majority of the comments (from both sides) appeared to be written by the same handful of authors under different online personas. We view our comments section primarily as a place for our readers to share opinions that our articles may not have fully expressed, and also as a place to refine those ideas through civil dialogue. The use of multiple false screen names hinders both goals, and we will discourage it where we can.

    In this case, I’ve left only a few comments up, several from each side, that appeared for various reasons to have been written by individuals using either their own name or who didn’t appear to have engaged in the use of multiple names. None of the comments have been deleted outright, however, and if you believe we’ve removed a comment of yours unfairly, please contact me at rmorris@nolamessenger.com and we can discuss its publication.

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