As the restaurateur planning a distillery restaurant on St. Charles Avenue prepares to ask the city for permission to sell alcohol in the building that currently houses Halpern’s Furniture Store, neighbors are voicing their concerns about how it and the associated hotel redevelopment on the block will affect their ability to park near their homes.
With certain issues, there’s often a central figure whose opinion you always want to know. If there’s a foreign policy incident, the Secretary of State should probably be consulted. If there’s a disease outbreak, the head of the Center for Disease Control should probably be on board. Want to gauge response to a major crime? Let’s see what the chief of police has to say.
And if you want to take some radical step pertaining to city streets, like taking out a traffic lane in the middle of downtown New Orleans, surely you’d want to know what Chief Traffic Engineer Allen Yrle thinks of it. Heck, you might think his support would be considered crucial.
Alas, you would be wrong.
Investors in the U.S. and around the world have been getting an economic reality shock as the markets are adjusting to a new normal. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen five percent in the last five days. Though certainly not the biggest loss in history, it does send a clear message that growth has been slowed in every corner of the planet — probably by “bad policy making and political inaction”, according to TIME.
A plan to sell off a vacant lot formerly used as a filling station for New Orleans Police Department vehicles near the rebounding Broad Street commercial corridor has been postponed indefinitely while city officials try to determine the extent of soil contamination under the site, but Broadmoor activists say it will likely attract strong interest once it goes to auction.
As the start of construction nears on a new community center funded by a state investment of more than $1 million, members of the Carrollton neighborhood remain apprehensive about the organization chosen to operate it — despite repeated assurances from officials that this is the most effective use of the land and the money moving forward.
No, you’re not imagining things. Violent crime in New Orleans is definitely getting worse.
Alas, the NOPD’s proposed “solutions” aren’t getting any better.
Just this month, the so-called “brown paper bag bandit” robbed two people in separate incidents two days apart – both within spitting distance of Trinity Episcopal Church. Those robberies especially stuck with me because they occurred with a couple of blocks of my house.
It’s called the “BigBelly,” and it’s being pitched to cities across the country as a miracle of American innovation. It’s a solar-powered trash compactor designed to replace ordinary city trash receptacles. There is practically no green-tech buzzword that doesn’t apply to these things.
I first began seeing the BigBellies in New Orleans last year along the Canal Streetcar line. The website Clean Technica reported in December 2012 that the city hoped to have “at least 150 solar-powered trash compactors installed,” before the Super Bowl and that, contracts and bidding permitted, “[t]his number could be expanded to 242.”
Presently, the city is planning on expanding the BigBelly receptacles to the French Quarter and Downtown Development District. The bid date is set for October 30th at 11 a.m. It’s happening, and it’s happening soon.
What hasn’t happened, at least as far as I can see, is proper due diligence.
As contractors have begun digging deep underneath South Claiborne, Jefferson, Napoleon and now Louisiana avenues to install new drainage ditches, Uptown New Orleans residents have asked pointed questions prior to each project about what the neutral ground will look like when the projects are finally done over the next three years.
On Tuesday night, those residents got their first look at possible answers, including a continuation of the walking path down Napoleon Avenue, public art installations on South Claiborne, tall palms restored to Jefferson Avenue and a variety of landscaping options on Louisiana. For many, however, those answers led to more questions — such as whether the projects will incorporate ideas from the city’s new water-management strategy, which plants could be harmful to traffic visibility in certain locations, and how the canopies over the avenues will look with the finished projects.
“Look both ways before crossing the street.”
Every child is taught that line, the essence being that before you step off the curb, you’d better have verified that three tons of automotive engineering won’t be bearing down on your fleshy, fragile form. Being a pedestrian is perilous, and you have to take precautions.
However, in the City of New Orleans, it is often a great deal more dangerous than it ought to be.
For years, as celebrated New York City restaurateurs Sean Josephs and Mani Dawes made visits to see Dawes’ mother in New Orleans, the idea of opening a restaurant in Dawes’ hometown was never far from their minds.
“There were a lot of runs around Audubon Park where we fantasized about leaving New York and moving here,” Josephs said. “I didn’t understand that if you marry someone from New Orleans, they’ll always bring you back.”
Sure enough, Josephs and Dawes are now planning a restaurant just a stone’s throw from her mother’s house and Audubon Park, anchoring a redevelopment already underway at the corner of Magazine Street and Nashville Avenue.
All the streetlights on St. Charles Avenue from Carrollton to the Lower Garden District will be repaired and replaced with new LED lights over the next two weeks, city officials said Monday morning as the work began.
Cedric Grant and Mayor Landrieu want everyone to know that they plan to repair New Orleans’ chronically ill-maintained street infrastructure. They also want you to know that they have no creative plans for funding it.
Grant is New Orleans’ new grand poobah of public infrastructure. He is simultaneously the executive director of the Sewerage and Water Board and the head of the Department of Public Works. He gets to serve two masters – Mayor Landrieu and the quasi-independent S&WB.
If you like navigating around the drainage projects on Napoleon, Jefferson and South Claiborne avenues — or if, more likely, you don’t — get ready: Louisiana Avenue is next.
The $82.6 million installation of a box canal on Louisiana Avenue from South Claiborne to Constance Street — a sister project of sorts to similar efforts on Napoleon, Jefferson and South Claiborne avenues — got its official start back in the summer, when Boh Brothers was chosen as the contractor, said Sewerage and Water Board superintendent Joe Becker before an audience of nearby residents at the Lyons Center on Thursday night. But after site surveying and other preparations, neighbors will begin to see the beginnings of the work on the ground in the weeks to come, as workers begin trimming trees and starting construction near Clara Street.
Issues relating to the demolition of historic buildings dominated Thursday’s meeting of the New Orleans City Council, culminating in the quiet restructuring of the city panel that oversees them to protect its decisions from court challenges.
Thursday’s meeting there on Thursday, however, included intense debates over whether preservation laws accelerate the loss of property by original owners, or if city bureaucracy is actually impeding preservation efforts – and ultimately suggests a widening philosophical rift among City Council members over the role of architectural preservation in New Orleans.
Southern 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.
The popular Palmer Park — surrounded by an array of diverse neighborhoods including Carrollton, Fontainebleau, Pigeontown and Hollygrove — was given its name during an era of nostalgia for the Confederacy to honor a pastor so passionately in favor of slavery that Gen. Robert E. Lee described his oratory as more powerful than “an entire regiment of troops,” according to a presentation by a University of New Orleans researcher.
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.
I’ve written a lot of columns since I started to write for Uptown Messenger in January of 2011. Sometimes I look back over them and realize: “You know, there have been some interesting developments with this since I put pen to paper.”
Accordingly, every now and again, I revisit a few old columns to provide brief updates on some of the topics I’ve written about. Some have happy endings, some less so.
So, without further ado, I give you The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.