Apr 012015
 
(Illustration by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

(Illustration by Jean-Paul Villere for UptownMessenger.com)

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

For more months than I care to count, and for surely as many more to come, I have been watching and experiencing firsthand the utter madness that is the ongoing construction along Napoleon Avenue.  All for the sake of what we all cross our fingers will be improved drainage.  Hold your breath, boss!  Residing where I do half a block off of the thoroughfare in the middle of the stretch just two short blocks to Freret Street, the impact has been a daily reminder to take nothing for granted and be ready for anything.  Some weeks I can cross Napoleon at my street, most I can’t.  Some days I do a U-turn at Loyola, others it’s like a whimsical journey into the unknown peppered with hungry potholes and vaporous boundaries.  But with all these catch as catch U-turns, that’s when it hit me: why isn’t the Freret intersection a rotary anyway? Continue reading »

Mar 302015
 

Owen Courreges

Collegiality and basic civility where in short supply this past week when the city council passed two controversial street name changes – as I originally predicted they would. Sadly, this is what happens when those elected scamps start to break the rules.

Usually, rules are there for a reason. They’re the bedrock of civilized discourse, the roux of the gumbo of organized government, and the something-something of something (note to self: think up more metaphors). With the run-up to the council’s decision, rules the rest of us learned in nursery school were broken left and right, to wit: Continue reading »

Mar 272015
 
A rendering of the new CVS pharmacy slated for the corner of Louisiana and Magazine. (courtesy of Avery Koontes / Sherman Strategies)

A rendering of the remodeled CVS pharmacy slated for the corner of Louisiana and Magazine. (image by Genesis Design Group, courtesy of Avery Cootes / Sherman Strategies)

The New Orleans City Council gave enthusiastic approval to a plan to remodel the former Blockbuster Video building at the edge of the Garden District into a CVS pharmacy, but several members said the city should be looking for a way to restrict the growing density of chain stores on Magazine Street. Continue reading »

Mar 262015
 
Robert C. Blakes Jr., son of Bishop Robert C. Blakes Sr., speaks to the New Orleans City Council amid a full house seeking the renaming of two streets after Blakes' father and another pastor, John Raphael. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Robert C. Blakes Jr., son of Bishop Robert C. Blakes Sr., speaks to the New Orleans City Council amid a full house seeking the renaming of two streets after Blakes’ father and another pastor, John Raphael. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

New Orleans City Council president Stacy Head speaks Thursday morning while Councilman Jason Williams listens. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

New Orleans City Council president Stacy Head speaks Thursday morning while Councilman Jason Williams listens. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Following a heated discussion on Thursday, the New Orleans City Council voted in favor of requests to rename sections of two streets in Central City after prominent local pastors. Continue reading »

Mar 232015
 
The former Le Roux banquet hall at 1700 Louisiana Avenue, photographed in January 2015. (photos courtesy of Nina English).

The former Le Roux banquet hall at 1700 Louisiana Avenue, photographed in January 2015. (photos courtesy of Nina English).

The former Le Roux banquet hall on Louisiana Avenue that was damaged by fire last year has been approved for demolition, and the owner is considering replacing it with a new condo development. Continue reading »

Mar 232015
 
(map via roadwork.nola.gov)

(map via roadwork.nola.gov)

Owen Courreges

The city of New Orleans has never been very good at doing things, although it has consistently shown a remarkable ability to publicize those few things it actually does.

It’s like a child who draws crude stick figures and insists on displaying them prominently on the fridge. Were they older, the self-promotion would seem ridiculous, but because of lowered expectations afforded to children onlookers are expected to feign awe and admiration.

These thoughts came to mind when I heard about the city’s new website, RoadWork (http://roadwork.nola.gov), a joint project between the Department of Public Works and the Sewerage & Water Board designed “to inform citizens about past, current, and future road work projects that affect their daily lives.” Continue reading »

Mar 222015
 
Members of the NOPD Sixth District task force search for an armed robbery suspect on Peniston Street in January 2012. The number of task force officers assigned to individual districts has dramatically decreased since then. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

Members of the NOPD Sixth District task force search for an armed robbery suspect on Peniston Street in January 2012. The number of task force officers assigned to individual districts has dramatically decreased since then. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Sabree Hill)

During every parade of Carnival season, thousands throng the sidewalks and neutral grounds of St. Charles Avenue, lured by the promise of thrown beads, the blaring bands or the spectacle of the floats. Within that chaotic revelry, however, also lurks the threat of deadly violence in the form of concealed handguns.

The elite New Orleans Police Department officers specifically tasked with finding those guns do not see much of the floats. Instead, they are hyper attentive to parade-goers’ hands, looking for anxious fingers unconsciously seeking reassurance from heavy metal held in a waistband. Or, the officers evaluate gazes – looking for the one young man walking just a little faster than his friends, his eyes straight forward, more intent than the others on reaching his destination because of the dangerous cargo he has in tow. Continue reading »

Mar 192015
 
The former site of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital. (via New Orleans HDLC)

The former site of the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital. (via New Orleans HDLC)

As Children’s Hospital finalizes its plans to expand across Henry Clay Avenue onto the site of the former New Orleans Adolescent Hospital campus, the city Historic District Landmarks Commission has nominated most of the NOAH site as a landmark.

The motion exempts six of the 15 buildings on the site and the Henry Clay Avenue portion of the wall (separating the two campuses) from landmark status, acknowledging negotiations thus far between Children’s Hospital and preservationists about the demolition of those structures. But if the remainder of the site is formally designated as a landmark at a subsequent HDLC meeting, Children’s Hospital will subject to HDLC review of any future construction on the NOAH site. Continue reading »

Mar 192015
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

New Orleans streetcars are our version of light rail transit, and they have made living in the city’s core more attractive.

We know of a one-car family on Carrollton Avenue. The wife uses the SUV to ferry the three kids back and forth and handle the other daily necessities of life. The man of the house only needs to look as far as his neighborhood streetcar to give him access to downtown New Orleans. Continue reading »

Mar 182015
 

The new development proposed for Magazine Street between Richard and Felicity streets. (rendering by Studio WTA, courtesy of Wayne Troyer)

The new development proposed for Magazine Street between Richard and Felicity streets. (rendering by Studio WTA, courtesy of Wayne Troyer)

A large, long-vacant lot on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District is now planned to become home to a new development with ground-floor commercial space and apartments above, the New Orleans-based developer told neighbors this week. Continue reading »

Mar 172015
 
O'Henry's on South Carrollton. (March 2014 photo by Google Maps)

O’Henry’s Food and Spirits on South Carrollton. (March 2014 photo by Google Maps)

O’Henry’s Food and Sprits on South Carrollton agreed to pay the city a $500 fine Tuesday after allegedly selling beer to a teenager last month, and Avery’s Place on Willow Street was warned by the city alcohol board to be on its best behavior while awaiting a hearing on noise complaints. Continue reading »

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Mar 172015
 
A rendering of the new glass-and-steel facade of the Garden District Grocery slated for the former location of Zara's at 2042 Prytania. (by Lee Ledbetter, courtesy of the architect)

A rendering of the new glass-and-steel facade of the Garden District Grocery slated for the former location of Zara’s at 2042 Prytania. (by Lee Ledbetter, courtesy of the architect)

After its sale last year, the former Zara’s location on Prytania Street in the Lower Garden District will be dramatically renovated into a new, full-service Garden District Grocery, the property owners told neighbors on Monday. Continue reading »

Mar 162015
 

Owen Courreges

Note: The author has once again suffered a mental break and lapsed into his s“Bland Landers: Advice Columnist” persona. The following is the grisly outcome.

Dear Bland,

I am a developer pitching plans for the old World Trade Center building. My proposal includes a plan for a some twisty-gondola things that go up to an observation deck, and then come back down. Remember those gondolas at the World’s Fair back in ’84? Well, it’s like those only instead of taking you across the river, it just takes you up and then back down again (kind of like an elevator, but without the utility). I guess my question is, what in the World Trade Center is wrong with me? Continue reading »

Mar 132015
 
A diagram explaining the function of the water towers planned for Carrollton. (via Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans)

A diagram explaining the function of the water towers planned for Carrollton. (via Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans)

In the coming years, two 200-foot water towers — perhaps emblazoned with the popular Sewerage & Water Board logo — will become a feature of the Carrollton-area skyline, and federal preservationists want to hear your best ideas on how to lessen their impact on the historic New Orleans neighborhood. Continue reading »

Mar 122015
 
The Carrollton and Uptown historic districts (the two large areas on the left) may be subject to stricter scrutiny for new construction. (map via nola.gov)

The Carrollton and Uptown historic districts (the two large areas on the left) may be subject to stricter scrutiny for new construction. (map via nola.gov)

Stacy Head

Stacy Head

New construction across much of Uptown, Carrollton and Broadmoor could be regulated as closely as it is in the Irish Channel or Garden District, based on the results of a study authorized by unanimous vote of the New Orleans City Council on Thursday morning. Continue reading »

Mar 112015
 
Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

Prologue: Each Saturday at noon on WTUL 91.5 FM in New Orleans, Mark Tobler’s DJ set almost always opens with John Hartford’s song “Back in the Good Old Days.”  The song is a projection of a future population residing at a city dump, and while there — though they may imbibe as a community — the topic of discussion and conversation will be remembering when things were better and wondering how things became what they are.

The 21st century has been a veritable roller coaster thus far for the Crescent City.  Storms, diaspora, growth, crime, food highs, political lows, Hollywood South, hospital hubbub, even an entrepreneurial hotbed too.  It’s downright dizzying at times.  And then there’s our blight — and the quest to remedy that scourge, often via demolition.  We as a city often decry the Big Easy brand as slipping away via noise ordinances, smoking bans, whatever legal challenges and changes that float through City Hall.  But removing the landscape in the name of the greater good?  To be sure, there’s no faster way to becoming Anywhere, USA. Continue reading »

Mar 102015
 
The former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission on Second Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission on Second Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The City Planning Commission gave its nod Tuesday to a developer’s plan to convert the former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission in the Irish Channel into condominiums, but required that he provide off-street parking behind the building. Continue reading »

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Mar 092015
 
The former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission on Second Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Rachel Sims Baptist Mission on Second Street. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A century-old Baptist mission center in the Irish Channel that closed in 2010 is slated to become 10 condominiums in a redevelopment that is drawing praise from historic preservationists and neighborhood leaders but less enthusiasm from city planners. Continue reading »