By Sue Strachan, Uptown Messenger
The wners of 1901-07 Sophie Wright Place met with neighbors in the Lower Garden District on Tuesday, Non. 16, about their plans to turn a second-floor unit into a short-term rental.
Ash Salem, Raouf Mousa and Ralph Mousa (as 1901 Sophie Wright LLC) purchased the property in April 2019. They also own apartment-rental units in Lakeview, Chalmette and Mid-City.
Most people know the building as the location of the Munch Factory restaurant, located on the first floor, and its proximity to Half Moon Restaurant, Hi-Volt coffee shop and Il Mercato, an event rental space.
There is a commercial permit for the property and the owners have already applied for STR permits for three second-floor units, two of which are already allowed by city ordinance, with the owners applying for a conditional use for one short-term rental in a HU-B1 zoning district (Historic Urban Neighborhood Business District).
These units are empty right now and are undergoing cosmetic renovations. Two units are one-bedroom; the third unit, which the owners are asking to be approved as an STR, will be a studio. There is a separate entrance on Sophie Wright Place for one, while the other two have an entrance on St. Mary Street.
Three board members from the Lower Garden District Association – Tamara Agins, Adam Lambert and Matt Ryan – attended the meeting. Lambert asked for floor plans for the second-floor units to bring back to the association and brought up concerns about parking.
The owners assured them that there are three parking spots for each of the units, with a possible fourth to be used by The Munch Factory, dependent on if they move a cooler that is located outside. The city ordinance states that STRs need to have one parking space for two guest rooms.
Even with approval, with the new law, both residential and commercial STR permits must be renewed annually and are not transferable.
Reporter Sue Strachan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.