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A rendering of the building at 4528 Freret Street after its proposed redevelopment into a grocery store with condos above the parking lot. Architect Nick Marshall noted that the building was a Canal Villere grocery store in the 1970s and 80s. (image courtesy of Chase Marshall architects)

The former Publiq House building on Freret Street should be allowed to be converted into a grocery store, with a new 24-unit condo building constructed over the adjacent parking lot, the City Planning Commission voted Tuesday afternoon.

The commission voted 5-2 to recommend that the City Council allow the entire project at 4528 Freret as proposed by Neighborhood Housing Services, the building owner, and Green Coast Enterprises, the developer. No tenant has been selected for the grocery yet, because the developers did not want to start the leasing process before they were sure the project would be allowed, said Will Bradshaw of the Green Coast Enterprises.

“We think there’s an interesting opportunity to create an urban grocery store,” Bradshaw said.

The commission’s vote essentially allows six more condo units than the planning staff had recommended, because it allows the rezoning of the back portion of the parking lot facing LaSalle Street to commercial. The planning staff — and the two commissioners who voted against it — said allowing the condo unit to extend through the lot to LaSalle Street represented too much commercial incursion into the neighborhood.

“I can’t support something that would intrude on the neighborhood, as this would,” said Commissioner Kelly Brown, who had proposed holding the developers to the staff recommendation of an 18-unit condo building. “I’m not sure why we would consider zoning LaSalle in the middle of that block commercial.”

The other commissioners, however, said they felt the project was worthy, praising the creating of a grocery, the seven affordable housing units out of the 24 proposed, and Green Coast’s plan to make the building have “net zero” energy consumption, generating as much solar power on the roof as the building consumes.

The meeting has just concluded. To read our live coverage, see below:

Live Blog City Planning Commission – Sept. 11, 2018
 

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