Sep 182014
 
The Southern Rep theatre company is considering the building at 651 Richard Street as a possible long-term home. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Southern Rep theatre company is considering the building at 651 Richard Street as a possible long-term home. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

southern rep logoSouthern Rep, the highly regarded theatre company that has been performing all over the city since losing its longtime home at Canal Place two years ago, hopes to settle down in the Lower Garden District, its director told neighbors this week. Continue reading »

Sep 162014
 
A conceptual drawing of Phase I of the Avenue Oaks Hotel on St. Charles at Melpomene. (courtesy of Wayne Troyer, Studio WTA)

A conceptual drawing of Phase I of the Avenue Oaks Hotel on St. Charles at Melpomene. (courtesy of Wayne Troyer, Studio WTA)

As the New Orleans tourism industry grows, the Prytania Park hotel is slated for a major, two-phase expansion into a 200-room hotel called “The Avenue Oaks Hotel” that will encompass most of a city block on St. Charles Avenue, according to plans shared with Lower Garden District neighbors on Monday night. Continue reading »

Sep 092014
 
An undated photo of the basketball court at Evans Playground on LaSalle Street. (via Kaboom.org)

An undated photo of the basketball court at Evans Playground on LaSalle Street. (via Kaboom.org)

As Freret residents continue to organize an “official” booster club that would make Evans Playground eligible to host city-sponsored events such as free Movies in the Park and organized sports, they are hoping to attract support and sponsorships from the businesses on the commercial corridor. Continue reading »

Aug 302014
 
Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

Retired Gen. Russell Honore speaks at the GreenARMY Katrina commemoration at Xavier University. (Zach Brien for UptownMessenger.com)

As New Orleans continues to recover from the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina nine years ago, the city should pass a law preventing any schools or daycare centers from being built on top of toxic soil — including the proposed rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington High School over the old Silver City dump site in Central City, retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore and local allies said Saturday morning.

“We’re the oldest city in this part of the country, and we ought to be the first to make a stand,” Honore said. “We’re not going to put a school on a dump.” Continue reading »

Aug 282014
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

I want to tell you a story, though it’s a tired one.  It’s one of watermarks, floodlines, and rust.  It’s one of great sadness, overwhelming emotions, and glorious reunitings.  One that over the last 10 years most Americans are tired of hearing, and one that many New Orleanians have a version of.  It’s Katrina.  And Rita.  And levees breaking.  And the curious nine years that followed the moisture-rotted rollercoaster of events in latter 2005 in the Crescent City.  And while my tale unfurls I will ask you to remember two words: gumbo party. Continue reading »

Aug 252014
 

Owen Courreges

I’m just going to come right out and say what everything is thinking: What the @#$% is going on with home prices in Orleans Parish?

It’s getting crazy out there. I’ve been seeing listings of renovated homes for over $300 per square foot on the edge of Central City.  A “fixer-upper” needing a “total renovation” on the edge of City Park recently hit the market for $700,000. Continue reading »

Aug 192014
 
A conceptual drawing of the proposed riverfront expansion of the Convention Center, including a new hotel. (via mccno.com)

A conceptual drawing of the proposed riverfront expansion of the Convention Center, including a new hotel. (via mccno.com)

As plans progress on a nearly $1 billion expansion into the Lower Garden District, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is proposing a realignment of several streets to improve traffic flow through downtown, a new centralized hub for buses and taxis under the Pontchartrain Expressway, moving sidewalks to get conventioneers around the nearly mile-long facility, and possibly even an expansion of the riverfront streetcar to connect the upriver end of the project with the French Market, officials told neighbors Monday night. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 
Demolition workers push over a wall of the former Frank's Steakhouse on Freret Street on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Demolition workers push over a wall of the former Frank’s Steakhouse on Freret Street on Wednesday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Frank’s Steakhouse — the landmark restaurant that reigned over Freret Street for decades — was unceremoniously knocked to the ground on Wednesday in a dramatic illustration of the changing times in New Orleans.

The Frank’s complex in the 4500 block of Freret was the last major undeveloped property on the corridor since a wave of new business openings began around five years ago. On July 2, Arnold Kirschman finalized his purchase of the buildings from the Barreca family who had owned them for the better part of a century, as part of a plan to demolish the steakhouse in the center of the block to rebuild a stretch of buildings matching the old cleaners on the corner of Cadiz. Continue reading »

Aug 122014
 
The former day care at 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard has been bought by New Orleans chef Adolfo Garcia and his partners. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former day care at 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard has been bought by New Orleans chef Adolfo Garcia and his partners. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Adolfo Garcia speaks Monday before the New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustments. (via nola.gov)

Adolfo Garcia speaks Monday before the New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustments. (via nola.gov)

Celebrated New Orleans restaurateur Adolfo Garcia — whose High Hat Cafe and Ancora Pizzeria helped jumpstart the commercial revitalization of Freret Street — has bought a building on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard for his next venture.

Demonstrating the degree to which the redevelopment of O.C. Haley Boulevard has taken off, city officials on Monday compared the Central City corridor to busy Magazine Street as they discussed the need for parking they expect in the very near future. Continue reading »

Jul 302014
 
A black iron fence surrounds a green space at Constance and Harmony owned by Ruppert Kohlmaier. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A black iron fence surrounds a green space at Constance and Harmony owned by Ruppert Kohlmaier. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Approximate area of green space highlighted. (map by Uptown Messenger via Google Maps)

Approximate area of green space highlighted. (map by Uptown Messenger via Google Maps)

From the front window of the woodworking shop just off Magazine Street his father bought in 1930, Ruppert Kohlmaier can see a little wedge-shaped green space he also owns, and what he sees is a problem. Over the years, he has been threatened with lawsuits by people who claimed to be injured playing under its shady oaks, and now that he wants to build on it, his neighbors are angry at him.

When the neighbors around Constance and Harmony see the same space, they see a beloved pocket park, a crucial buffer between the modest homes of the Irish Channel and the busy commercial activity on Magazine Street. If Kohlmaier replaces the open area with a large building, they say, it will mean the removal of one of the few remaining green spaces in a neighborhood already under heavy redevelopment pressure.

Those conflicting viewpoints — simmering for weeks since Kohlmaier closed off the property with a sturdy iron fence — came to a head Tuesday afternoon at an unusually contentious meeting of the city’s architectural review committee. Continue reading »

Jul 292014
 
A rendering of the Oak Lofts complex included in the demolition application. (via nola.gov)

A rendering of the Oak Lofts complex included in the demolition application. (via nola.gov)

A request to demolish the landscaping business at 8616 Oak Street was approved by a city panel last week, clearing the way for the proposed Oak Lofts condominium development to begin construction. Continue reading »

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Jul 242014
 
Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free to a handful of non-smoking advocates, members of the media and smoker Elizabeth Stella (seated far right) on Wednesday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller (left) explains his experience taking his bar smoke-free to a handful of non-smoking advocates, members of the media and smoker Elizabeth Stella (seated far right) on Wednesday afternoon. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

This week, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s office is launching a series of events — call it a blitz, maybe a crusade — promoting her vision of smoke-free bars across New Orleans.

Wednesday’s event at Carrollton Station was intended to be a forum for bar owners to discuss the issue. Despite personal invitations from her staff to proprietors and public announcements in a variety of media outlets, however, the only person from the public to show up was a single, angry, ardent smoker.

Why the low turnout? Carrollton Station owner Michael Miller — who took the bar smoke-free when he bought it last year — said that many of his colleagues likely see the smoke-free trend as inevitable, and may even be privately looking forward to such a ban.

“The opposition we’ve gotten has not been from bar owners,” Anna Nguyen, a Cantrell staffer, agreed afterward. “It’s been from patrons.” Continue reading »

Jul 222014
 
An image of the box used for peaches sold in Costco stores that are being recalled because of the possibility of bacterial infection. (via costco.com)

An image of the box used for peaches sold in Costco stores that are being recalled because of the possibility of bacterial infection. (via costco.com)

Based on concerns about a possible bacterial contamination, the federal Food and Drug Administration is issuing a recall of peaches and nectarines that were likely sold at Costco’s New Orleans store and other locations across the country. Continue reading »

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Jul 142014
 

Owen Courreges

Your home is not a hotel, obviously. However, an ever-growing number of New Orleans homeowners want to run a hotel-type business on the side. With tourism booming in the midst of a generally weak economy, it’s a quick way to make some extra cash.

This is the nexus of the controversy over “illegal short-term rentals” that has been permeating local political discourse in recent months. Due to zoning and licensing laws, there’s simply no way for homeowners to rent a room out as a vacation rental. Most crucial is the fact that any lease has to be for at least 30 days (or 60 days in the French Quarter). Continue reading »

Jul 102014
 
Raymond Twickler Jr. holds an order pad in his metal shop on Cadiz Street.  (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Raymond Twickler Jr. holds an order pad in his metal shop on Cadiz Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Two buildings burned early Wednesday morning in the 800 block of Cadiz. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Two buildings burned early Wednesday morning in the 800 block of Cadiz. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Raymond Twickler Jr. traces his family’s metalworking business in New Orleans back more than a century, but the prospect of rebuilding his Cadiz Street shop after Wednesday morning’s fire next door has the 72-year-old wondering whether he should go on.

“At my age, I have my thoughts. That has to be taken into consideration,” Twickler said. “This is my first day back, and I’m assessing the damage.” Continue reading »

Jul 102014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

It won’t be long before Mayor Landrieu will begin telling us why we need to approve one or more of his tax proposals in the fall elections. Before you get out your checkbook, we have a few ideas that will create new jobs and generate additional taxes — if the Mayor and the City Council can be a little more flexible on zoning. Continue reading »