Three buildings at the corner of Magazine and Nashville are slated for an upcoming redevelopment and reconfiguration that will likely mean a reshuffling of the shops there, business owners and neighbors said this week.
Back in the summer, the Butler Callahan Holdings development company bought the property at the end of the 5700 block of Magazine where Rare Cuts, Vom Fass and Parcels and Post are currently located. Their plan, according to a letter sent to neighbors, is to renovate the three buildings, aligning the front of the corner building with the other two and joining the three structures into one contiguous space.
“New building entrances and larger windows will enliven the street frontages and compliment the thriving, pedestrian-friendly Magazine commercial corridor,” the letter reads. “The buildings will remain one-story structures, and the general feel of the redevelopment will reinforce the small-scale nature of Uptown New Orleans neighborhood shopping culture.”
Ben Butler, a managing partner, said the corner building will have a look similar in nature to La Petite Grocery farther down Magazine, and the developers envision a strong restaurant with outdoor seating as an anchor for the project. The remaining buildings would likely be a mix of shops and retail, and the merged spaces may allow for more than two — three or four may make more sense, Butler said.
The plan, Butler said, represents the company’s interest in redeveloping prime locations in the interior of the city that are underutilized. Their other projects include building luxury homes at Camp and Pleasant and the redevelopment of an Annunciation Street warehouse in the Central Business District.
“We’re very focused on stable, higher-end locations, and going in and doing redevelopment or new development,” Butler said.
Specific tenants for Magazine and Nashville have not been identified, and the company is in discussions with current tenants there, Butler said. An owner at Rare Cuts declined to discuss her plans in a phone call on Wednesday morning, and Vom Fass owner Chris Herman said she is already planning to move — staying closed during the renovation would not be feasible, she said.
“We’ll find another great location,” Herman said. “There are a lot of great opportunities in the city.”
The third tenant in the project, Parcels and Post, would like to stay in their current location — especially because of their private mailboxes that receive mail at that address — but the owners aren’t sure it’s feasible, said owner Heidi Hammond. She remains in talks with Butler Callahan and Parcels and Post could possibly fit in one of the reconfigured spaces, Hammond said, but the new rents after the renovation may prove too high.
“They do really have to give me a big concession for it to work,” Hammond said.
If she does have to move, Hammond said, she is committed to remaining in the neighborhood, as near her current location as possible.
The renovation does not appear to need any special permission from the City Council that would necessitate a good-neighbor agreement, but the developers have been meeting with the Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association and incorporating some of their suggestions, said association president Sharon LaHoste. The association sent members a copy of the developers’ plans, and a handful of residents have responded in favor of the project, while only one objected, LaHoste said. But neighbors are concerned about the potential of losing the services offered by Parcels and Post in particular, she said.
“I do view her situation to be of neighborhood interest, because of those private mailboxes,” LaHoste said.
Butler said he couldn’t discuss the negotiations specifically, but is aware of the neighborhood’s concerns about the existing businesses.
“We do understand and see their value. There is a great consideration there to keep them, we just have to see how the project goes and the leasing,” Butler said. “I can’t commit definitely to anybody right now, but they are very much in our consideration.”
Hammond is scheduled to meet with the association about her plans in December, and neighbors have already begun discussing where else nearby she might be able to locate, LaHoste said. The association has not voted on any position on the developers’ plans, however.
“They are genuinely interested in input from the neighborhood,” LaHoste said. “It’s our job to get the information out to the neighborhood, get their input, and pass along their input.”
[Full disclosure: Parcels and Post is been an Uptown Messenger advertiser, and Uptown Messenger has a mailbox at the location.]