Apr 292014
 

(image via winterinstitute.org)

(image via winterinstitute.org)

The “Welcome Table,” a new effort led by the Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office, intends to bring people together across racial lines and empower them with grant money to build their own projects to improve Central City and three other New Orleans communities.

“We’re going to get some things done,” said Deputy Mayor Judy Reese Morse said at New Hope Baptist Church in Central City. “The grant will provide seed money to groups who are interested in actually working together to achieve something positive in our city.”

When officials introduced the program Monday night, however, they were met with both skepticism that any real results will be accomplished and promises from participants that they will press forward despite their misgivings. Continue reading »

Apr 292014
 

jewel bush

The New Orleans Public Library System is in trouble.

Next year, the city has to find an additional $3 million just to keep the 13 current libraries open. That’s keep-the-lights-on money. Purchasing new books or investing in new library technologies are both out of the question under this scenario. Continue reading »

Apr 282014
 

The Welcome Table New Orleans — a grant-funded effort “to facilitate meaningful and honest discussions about race in respectful, safe and structured spaces” — will launch tonight (Monday, April 28) with an informational session at New Hope Baptist Church at 1807 Lasalle Street in Central City. Continue reading »

Apr 282014
 

Owen Courreges

Elk Place has seen better days, and poor transit planning is the most obvious culprit.  Near the intersection with Canal, transit users wait alongside derelict and ill-maintained structures with inadequate shelter and seating.  Drivers buzz by as throngs brave the elements to make their connections.

This is what happens when over 20 transit lines converge at one location, with over 5,000 riders boarding and disembarking streetcars and buses.

It’s a notorious disgrace.  The immediate area has been slow to redevelop.  The sidewalks are difficult to navigate and litter is an ongoing problem.  Not only have transit users suffered – local businesses and property owners are dissatisfied as well. Continue reading »

Apr 232014
 

The former Duke Morgan spa on Magazine Street, photographed in September 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The former Duke Morgan spa on Magazine Street, photographed in September 2013. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The owners of the celebrated Sylvain and Ste. Marie restaurants downtown have completed their purchase of an Uptown building where they plan “The Manor on Magazine,” and they remain on track to open in the fall of this year, they said Tuesday evening. Continue reading »

Apr 232014
 

FANAThe Faubourg Avart Neighborhood Association — which formed last year to represent the area between Prytania and the river, from Upperline to Valmont — will host City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell for a discussion of quality-of-life issues at a meeting tonight (Wednesday, April 23) at St. Katharine Drexel Prep, 5116 Magazine. Continue reading »

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Apr 222014
 
Rendering of the new Krystal burger restaurant planned for South Claiborne Avenue. (Rendering by Mouton Long Turner Architects)

Rendering of the new Krystal burger restaurant planned for South Claiborne Avenue. (Rendering by Mouton Long Turner Architects)

The South Claiborne fast-food corridor seems poised to get yet another entry, as Krystal is planning to open a burger restaurant in the old Kentucky Fried Chicken store near Washington Avenue. Continue reading »

Apr 222014
 
The Coliseum Square fountain flows in the background during a crawfish boil fundraiser in May 2012. (photo courtesy of Jim McAlister)

The Coliseum Square fountain flows in the background during a crawfish boil fundraiser in May 2012. (photo courtesy of Jim McAlister)

(image via neworleansfilmsociety.org)

(image via neworleansfilmsociety.org)

Two of the Crescent City’s best springtime offerings — the Coliseum Square Association’s annual crawfish boil fundraiser and a showing of “The Goonies” in the New Orleans Film Society’s Moonlight Movies series — will converge on the same evening in an unexpected but possibly perfect pairing next month. Continue reading »

Apr 212014
 

Owen Courreges

Did you hear the news? Mayor Landrieu is proposing… (drum roll please)… tax increases!

This shocking development stems in large part from the consent decrees with the U.S. Justice Department over the widely-acknowledged and widespread constitutional violations routinely committed by the New Orleans Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office vis-à-vis Orleans Parish Prison.  Those settlements have hefty price tags attached.

Who could have predicted this?  Not to toot my own horn, but I certainly did. Continue reading »

Apr 152014
 
At least two sections of the Newcomb Boulevard fence have been removed as of Tuesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

At least two sections of the Newcomb Boulevard fence have been removed as of Tuesday morning. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

At least two sections of the controversial Newcomb Boulevard fence were removed Tuesday morning, and city officials say the intersection will re-open to two-way traffic in about a week. Continue reading »

Apr 142014
 

Owen Courreges

An interesting column appeared last month in the Winston-Salem Journal  entitled “About that Desire for Streetcars.”  Winston-Salem (famous for being the headquarters of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco) is moving forward with a contentious $179 million boondoggle to build a streetcar line through downtown.  And apparently New Orleans’ streetcar system is being cited as an exemplar.

The column, which was written by the aptly-named John Railey, takes the form of a parody of the Tennessee Williams masterpiece “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“What we really need is a real streetcar line, like the one we had in New Orleans,” says the thickly satirized protagonist. “Such a streetcar line would be worth any cost. It’s just silly that some critics say we should first spruce up and expand the city bus lines. Silly taxpayers, being so pettily pessimistic about the streetcar line prospect.” Continue reading »

Apr 102014
 

The building at 1020 Erato is slated to become the home of The Courtyard Brewery. (submitted photo)

The building at 1020 Erato is slated to become the home of The Courtyard Brewery. (submitted photo)

After months through the city’s regulatory systems, it took only a few very short minutes before the New Orleans City Council for the Courtyard Brewery to win final approval for their Lower Garden District taproom. Continue reading »

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Apr 102014
 

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

The City’s announcement last week that after months of meetings, negotiations were still ongoing with Gatehouse Capital should prompt the New Orleans Building Corporation to re-open the bid process and invite new proposers.

This is especially true with several new Council and NOBC members coming on board in a few weeks and the change of NOBC leadership when Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant moves on to the Sewerage & Water Board.  With the multi-million dollar high-end outlet mall by the Howard Hughes Corporation set to open at the Riverwalk next month, the WTC development project would attract new bidders – possibly including the Hughes group. Hughes’ portfolio is very diverse and the WTC could be a good fit for them, especially if they do not choose to build condos or a hotel on top of the Riverwalk in a second phase. Continue reading »

Apr 082014
 
More than 100 people turned out Tuesday for the City Planning Commission hearing on the proposed sale of Newcomb Boulevard. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

More than 100 people turned out Tuesday for the City Planning Commission hearing on the proposed sale of Newcomb Boulevard. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

By a 6-1 vote Tuesday, members of the City Planning Commission said they saw a clear public need for Newcomb Boulevard to be open to drivers and the public, rejecting an effort by the street’s residents to buy it and make it private.

What will become of the controversial iron gate blocking the boulevard at Freret Street remains unclear, however. Unlike most City Planning decisions, Tuesday’s vote will not automatically be forwarded to the City Council for review — though officials said it was unclear whether additional avenues remain open for the Newcomb residents. Continue reading »

Apr 082014
 

jewel bush

Dianne Honoré has been a French Quarter tour guide off and on for more than 20 years; and this, she said, is the worst it’s ever been.

“My heart breaks when I walk through the French Quarter sometimes,” Honoré said sipping a coffee in Treme Café on St. Philip Street. “It disgusts me the lack of protection, the level of filth.”

Honoré is talking about the all-time high population of “gutter punks” that blanket the French Quarter. The gutter punk colonies run along the river, along Decatur Street. The 500 block of Bourbon Street is a gutter-punk haven; basically all over the French Quarter is, she said. Continue reading »

Apr 072014
 
The Roly Poly location on Tchoupitoulas. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Roly Poly location on Tchoupitoulas. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City officials approved a developer’s request Monday to tear down the Roly Poly building on Tchoupitoulas, to the dismay of the restaurant’s current employees, but the new bank intended for the site is still lacks permission to tear down an adjacent house. Continue reading »

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Apr 032014
 

the big issueThe entrepreneurship boom in New Orleans is a real phenomenon, and a crucial factor in the city’s continued rebirth — but it must also be accompanied by more economic opportunities for the unsustainable number of jobless African-American men in the city, a panel of business leaders said Thursday evening.

“We can get there,” said Rod Miller, CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “We are a ‘new’ New Orleans, but we’re not our best New Orleans.” Continue reading »

Apr 022014
 
Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Pedestrians pass by the Newcomb Boulevard fence in early February. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

Opponents of the controversial Newcomb Boulevard fence have won a preliminary round in the fight over the street’s future, as city planners are recommending against its sale and closure to the public. Continue reading »