Demolition requests for large homes on Nashville Avenue, Broadway Street and Peniston Street were all denied or deferred on Monday by city officials.
The request at 704 Nashville Avenue was not technically for a full demolition, but for “alteration of the front facade to accommodate the addition of a second story to this single-family home,” according to city documents. That plan, however, came under opposition from the neighbors and from preservationists.
“This is one of two historic houses that are identical in facade in this block,” wrote Jay Seastrunk, an architect and member of the Louisiana Landmarks Society. “They are unique structures which contribute to the overall scale and character of the neighborhood, and defacing one of them by adding a second-floor gallery and eliminating its steep-pitch gable roof would destroy the historic character and dramatically change the scale.”
The owners have since engaged in conversation with the architects on the Historic District Landmarks Commission, said attorney Justin Schmidt, and have decided to redraw their plans to preserve the existing facade by adding a camelback, rather than a full second floor.
“We now understand and appreciate that this structure is more historic than the owners initially expected,” Schmidt said before the city’s Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee on Monday.
The architect is still in the process of redrawing the plans, Schmidt said, but they hope the new design will preserve so much of the home that it is no longer considered a demolition, and the request can be withdrawn completely. Just in case further review is needed, however, the committee voted unanimously to postpone any decision for a month.
At 1407 Broadway, a request to demolish the home was met with opposition from several neighbors and preservationists. Mary Collins, who lives two doors down, said she and her neighbors have a number of unanswered questions about when the house was last occupied, and why the owner wants to demolish the “craftsman-style bungalow” rather than renovate it.
“We did make an effort to reach the owner, but only number we had is disconnected,” Collins said.
Erin Holmes of the Preservation Resource Center echoed the neighbors’ concerns.
“This is a viable structure,” Holmes said. “It might be in need of a small renovation, but definitely not a full demolition.”
The owner was not present to speak, so the request was deferred until October.
Finally, a pending request to demolish 2139 Peniston was denied outright when the owner failed to appear before the committee to answer questions. That decision is subject to final review by the New Orleans City Council.