Sep 262011
 

The vacant Pizza Hut building on South Claiborne could be demolished to make way for a Taco Bell. (photo courtesy of Jean-Paul Villere)

In Uptown New Orleans, a run for the border may soon get a good bit quicker.

On Tuesday, the city planning commission will review plans for a Taco Bell restaurant in the long-vacant Pizza Hut building on South Claiborne Avenue. Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a child-psychology clinic proposed in an old home on Maple Street.

The Taco Bell plans call for the demolition of the graffiti-prone Pizza Hut to make way for a new building with a drive through. The property is already zoned commercial, but because it’s located in an Inner-City Urban Use corridor, it requires specific permission to become a fast-food restaurant and carries stricter design standards.

The facade of the proposed Taco Bell. (via nola.gov)

“A strong visual connection shall be made between the building’s design and the existing character of the area,” the Inner-City corridor law reads.

City planners are recommending that the commission approve the restaurant’s request, and have no quarrel with the building’s “traditional Taco Bell south-west architectural style,” but insist it dramatically reduce the amount of bell-shaped signage proposed for the property.

According to tacobell.com, the closest restaurant in Orleans Parish is in Gentilly.

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The other Uptown property set for consideration Tuesday is the use of a home at 7513 Maple as an office for child-psychologist Lucinda Lang DeGrange. DeGrange has told the city the majority of her work is in area school, and would likely see only five clients a week at the office itself.

The planning staff, however, recommends against DeGrange’s request to change the building from its longstanding residential zoning to neighborhood-business classification. Though the house is located literally only one lot away from the beginning of the Maple Street commercial zoning stretch, it is technically between two other residential properties and would thus constitute “spot zoning,” the staff says.

In her application, DeGrange suggests that her neighboring properties are hardly residential in actual fact. One is in “severe disrepair,” she writes, populated by feral cats that hide in the tall weeds between the old car parts, and the other is abandoned as well, with a entire junked Volkswagen in front.

“From Cherokee to Carrollton Avenue is commercial with the exception of three buildings, two of which are my immediate neighbors and are eyesores on this lovely street,” DeGrange wrote.

The neighborhood association, Maple Area Residents Inc., supports DeGrange’s proposal under a different zoning, writes Thomas Milliner. The neighborhood believes “residential office” zoning would be more appropriate than “neighborhood business,” because the latter would permit much more intense uses including gas stations or fast food, such as, presumably, a Taco Bell.

The City Planning Commission convenes at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, and will be broadcast on local cable as well as streamed live over the web.

  • nolagal

    Both projects are good, and Milliner’s proposed compromise sounds entirely reasonable. Are efforts underway to remedy the “eyesores” near the Maple Street property?

  • uptonola

    This proposed new Taco Bell location is within sight of a previous T-B restaurant at the corner of S. Claiborne and Louisiana Avenues, which was abandoned after Katrina. The easily-recognizable architecture of the old building has now been re-cycled – awkwardly – into a non-chain, fast-food restaurant. T-B and/or its franchise owner were poor citizens following Katrina and left plenty of “bell-shaped signage” to rot in plain sight. Pizza Hut did the same. My point is that it’s easy to be a “good citizen” while developing a new business, but it’s worth noting how quickly “corporate interest” vanishes when the going gets tough!

    • BurritoInMyTummy

      Adding to the fun is the fact that Pizza Hut and Taco Bell are run by the same corporation, Yum! Brands. Did they continue to maintain ownership of the Pizza Hut building the past 6 years while it sat there in neglect and are just now deciding to do something with it?

  • Robyn Flanery

    I think the old popeyes on s claiborne next to the bike shop should become a taco bell. It’s just sitting there and all the college kids are so angry that the taco bell was replaced at the UC at tulane!

  • robert swan

    Well let us keep the history of having the “gateway to Jefferson Parish” (S. Claiborne) look like Jefferson Parish.
    Would the “planning” department allow this suburban trash on ST Charles?
    Yum should be made to at least make an effort to improve the property after leaving it fester for 6 years.