Aug 182014
 

Owen Courreges

“Get the f*** on the sidewalk.”

Those are the words that allegedly started the entire thing: the struggle, the shooting, the outrage and the riots.

Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department was quoted as uttering these words by Dorian Johnson, who was walking with Michael Brown in the street.  Brown was ultimately shot and killed by Officer Wilson, sparking a national firestorm. Continue reading »

Aug 142014
 

820 General Pershing Street, photographed in December 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

820 General Pershing Street, photographed in December 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

A request to tear down a vacant, century-old house just off Magazine Street on General Pershing that drew outcry from neighbors was postponed Thursday for at least a week by the New Orleans City Council. 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 142014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

What trait did actor/comedian Robin Williams and many of New Orleans homeless share?  Mental illness.  Like a majority of the homeless in New Orleans, Williams battled periodic bouts of substance abuse and depression until he finally “silenced the demons that relentlessly targeted him” earlier this week, as the Associate Press put it.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the rate of mental illness increases as boomers age. According to the Center for Disease Control, the suicide rate for adults -  aged 45 to 64 – increased 40% from 1999 to 2011. An analysis by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that the suicide rate for middle- to late-middle-aged adults is higher than any other age group. Continue reading »

Aug 132014
 
The former fountain store at 7901 St. Charles Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former fountain store at 7901 St. Charles Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

An architect's sketch by Albert Architecture of a condo building proposed for the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Fern Street. (via nola.gov)

An architect’s sketch of a condo building proposed for the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Fern Street. (via nola.gov)

A shuttered St. Charles Avenue fountain store that began life as a gas station decades ago should not be torn down to make room for a new condominium building, a group of city officials recommended on Tuesday. 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 »

Aug 112014
 
(Cartoon by Owen Courreges)

(Cartoon by Owen Courreges)

Owen Courreges

A ban on smoking in bars and casinos in the City of New Orleans is beginning to appear increasingly inevitable.  Although a concerted campaign to enact a statewide ban has failed repeatedly in past years, the insidious anti-smoking forces are now focusing on smaller-scale efforts.

In New Orleans, these forces have found a political surrogate in District B City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell, who plans to introduce a smoking ban this fall.

“This is not an attack, this is about healthier environments for all people: those who work in these environments, musicians, employees,” Cantrell said recently. ”But the majority of the people now within our city and even state, close to 80 percent are non-smokers.”

Cantrell attempts an artful dodge, but the truth is that this is an attack — an attack on a market choice. Continue reading »

Aug 082014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

While it’s very early in the competition to see who the Presidential nominees will be in 2016, we’ve been impressed by the energy and drive of U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky.

Senator Paul recently accepted an invitation to speak to an Urban League convention in Florida. Unfortunately, most of the delegates to the convention thought that inviting an arch-conservative like Senator Paul was a mistake and stayed away from the session where he spoke. Continue reading »

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Aug 052014
 

Construction equipment sits in the 2500 block of  Jefferson Avenue in December 2013.  (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Construction equipment sits in the 2500 block of Jefferson Avenue in December 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Several dozen homes around Jefferson Avenue are scheduled to lose power during the day Wednesday so that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can proceed with drainage work, New Orleans officials said. Continue reading »

Aug 042014
 
The Future Land Use Map in the city of New Orleans' Master Plan identifies a lot at Constance and Harmony as "parkland" when it is actually a privately-owned lot. (via nola.gov)

The Future Land Use Map in the city of New Orleans’ Master Plan identifies a lot at Constance and Harmony as “parkland” when it is actually a privately-owned lot. (Source: nola.gov)

Owen Courreges

In literature, typically anything with the word “master” before it is going to be something both controlling and nefarious. For example, if a science fiction novel references a “master computer,” you can bet your last credit that it is either threatening the existence of humanity, or has already wiped us off the globe.

This is why the idea of a “Master Plan” for the City of New Orleans has always been viscerally unsettling to me. It’s as though there’s some cold, unfeeling entity out there that seeks to control every aspect of using property in the city.

Gut feelings can be off, of course, but this one is not. Continue reading »

Jul 312014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

With fewer than 100 days until the mid-term Congressional and local elections, it’s no surprise that more than a few candidates and elected officials turned out Sunday for brunch and hobnobbing with Congressman Cedric Richmond.  While Richmond could face opposition again from Gary Landrieu, the mayor’s cousin who ran two years ago, Richmond is expected to be easily reelected.

In addition to Richmond, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Steve Scalise (who represents only a small portion of Orleans Parish but it unstoppable as the new House Majority Whip), there are 41 additional races that candidates could qualify for. Because of difficulty raising money, most incumbents will not draw opponents. On top of those races, we should add various millage items and other local initiatives that will appear on the November ballot. 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 282014
 

The bayou facade of the proposed Deutsches Haus building on Moss Street (via Mathes Brierre architects)

Owen Courreges

We can now officially say that the New Orleans City Planning Commission is insane.  This week, the Planning Commission asked members of the Deutsches Haus to revisit the plans for their new building in Mid-City — because it is too Germanic-looking.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Now, when you go car shopping, you don’t say to the salesman: “I like this car, but it looks too much like, you know, a car.  Don’t you have anything that looks like a bicycle?” Continue reading »

Jul 262014
 
Kara Morgan's partner Trey Bornmann, clasps hands on the steps of the Lyons Center in front of a sea of her friends and supporters during a second line celebration of her life on Saturday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Kara Morgan’s partner Trey Bornmann, clasps hands on the steps of the Lyons Center in front of a sea of her friends and supporters during a second line celebration of her life on Saturday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Kara Lynn Morgan (submitted photo)

Kara Morgan on the parade route in 2014. (photo courtesy of Cher Groves)

Kara Lynn Morgan died of melanoma July 15, the day before her 41st birthday, but the tireless neighborhood leader is far from finished with her battle against skin cancer.

She is still fighting it — she and her many allies in New Orleans and beyond — on the fields in the park of her beloved Irish Channel. Continue reading »

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 official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group's members online. (via Facebook.com)

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group’s members online. (via Facebook.com)

A proclamation from Mayor Mitch Landrieu commending Operation Save America for its service to New Orleans was issued this past weekend “in error,” city officials said Tuesday afternoon following reports that the group interrupted an Uptown church service on Sunday. Continue reading »

Jul 222014
 
An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group's members online. (via Facebook.com)

An image of the official proclamation welcoming Operation Save America to New Orleans was circulated among the group’s members online. (via Facebook.com)

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued an official welcome this week to Operation Save America, an anti-abortion organization that interrupted an Uptown church’s prayer service with its protests on Sunday and had plans to parade the alleged remains of a fetus around Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Continue reading »

Jul 212014
 
(map via NORTA)

The restored Line 90 is shown in blue, and the Leonidas line is shown in Green. (map via NORTA)

The New Orleans RTA plans to restore Carrollton Bus Line 90 this fall, which runs from the intersection of South Claiborne through Mid-City and City Park to reach Gentilly, as part of a series of service changes announced as transit advocates question the slow return of bus lines and the agency’s finances. Continue reading »