Jul 252016
 
The church at 2517 Jackson Avenue. (via Google Maps)

The church at 2517 Jackson Avenue. (via Google Maps)

The 143-year-old former church at 2517 Jackson Avenue is slated to become a private home with a swimming pool and gardens, following the approval of permission to demolish an old home next door.

The house at 2509 Jackson Avenue is to be demolished to make way for the gardens around the renovated church. (via city of New Orleans)

The house at 2509 Jackson Avenue is to be demolished to make way for the gardens around the renovated church. (via city of New Orleans)

The plan was described to city officials at the July 18 meeting of the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee, where Crane Builders were requesting the demolition of a blighted home at 2509-11 Jackson Avenue. The owner was not named, but the property is registered to a company based in Aspen, Colo., property records show.

“The owner also owns some adjacent properties, so this demolition request is associated with the grander plan, as it were, for subdivision of these several lots, which would include renovation of a historic church two lots down that was built in 1873,” said Beau Johnson of Crane Builders, representing the owner. “The subject building, we believe, was built in the ’50s, modified several times, blighted, in disrepair, and previously unoccupied except by a squatter.”

The church would become a single-family home; the adjacent lots — including the one where the house at 2509-11 Jackson Avenue stands — would make way for the swimming pool and gardens, and another lot fronting on South Robertson Street around the corner would eventually become a driveway, Johnson said.

Committee member Ann Farmer said she had recently visited the site, and she believes the old house to be demolished dates back farther than the 1950s. She was concerned, she said, about allowing its demolition without a firm development plan, in case the current plan doesn’t work out and the newly vacant lot were to become a parking lot instead.

“My concern is that we don’t have the concept that the church is going to be turned into a residence,” Farmer said. “We don’t seem to have any plans for it. Would this then possibly become parking if that building turned back into a commercial building?”

A tentative site plan. (via City of New Orleans)

A tentative site plan. (via City of New Orleans)

Farmer said she wanted the builders to return with more specific plans, but Johnson protested that those plans would be too expensive to create if the city doesn’t intend to allow the demolition of the unwanted house.

“The owner has spent several hundred thousand dollars shoring the building, so our intent is to do the work,” Johnson said. “However, engaging the architect to give us a full set of plans relative to where we’re headed — when we don’t know if we can or can’t have 20 percent of what would be the total square footage — is kind of putting the cart before the horse from our perspective.”

There is already a parking lot adjacent to the church at 2517 Jackson Avenue, but it belongs to the active church across the street, Johnson noted. The only connection, Johnson said, is that the church across the street allowed the builders to stage their equipment in the parking lot during the shoring work.

The zoning at the house is residential, so the property couldn’t be used as a parking lot, said Ed Horan of the city’s department of safety and permits. The Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee voted 7-2 in favor of allowing the demolition to proceed.

In an unrelated request, the committee also gave unanimous approval for the demolition of another former church at 4227 Erato Street.

The church at 4227 Erato Street. (via city of New Orleans)

The church at 4227 Erato Street. (via city of New Orleans)

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