Apr 202015
 
The apartment complex at 1900 Amelia Street, midway through its demolition. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The apartment complex at 1900 Amelia Street, midway through its demolition. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The old abandoned apartment complex at the corner of Amelia and Dryades street has long drawn the ire of its neighbors, who have complained for years that it was an eyesore and a danger.

Late last week, in dramatic fashion, something was finally done about the building — by gravity. It partially collapsed on Thursday, and on Friday, the city of New Orleans sent a demolition crew to finish the job. Continue reading »

Apr 102015
 
The Our Lady of Lourdes church on Napoleon Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The Our Lady of Lourdes church on Napoleon Avenue. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

After years of trying to find a new purpose for the flooded Our Lady of Lourdes church on Napoleon Avenue, the Archdiocese of New Orleans has decided to place the majestic building up for sale to a buyer that can be a good neighbor to the Catholic school next door. Continue reading »

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Apr 082015
 
The vacant lot at 820 General Pershing was overgrown and littered when photographed in late March. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The vacant lot at 820 General Pershing was overgrown and littered when photographed in late March. The rectory, under renovation next door, can be seen behind the wall. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The vacant site of a century-old home on General Pershing Street — demolished last year despite sustained outcry from its neighbors — may finally see some use this fall as green space for the nearby Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle-Orléans. Continue reading »

Apr 062015
 
A rendering depicting the approximate size and layout of the homes proposed for the former Turnbull Bakery site in the Irish Channel, though each house will be individually designed. (image courtesy of Pentek Homes)

A rendering depicting the approximate size and layout of the homes proposed for the former Turnbull Bakery site in the Irish Channel, though each house will be individually designed. (image courtesy of Pentek Homes)

The Turnbull Bakery entrance on First Street. (via Google Maps)

The Turnbull Bakery entrance on First Street. (via Google Maps)

Article by Kristen Himmelberg for UptownMessenger.com

The site of the old Turnbull Bakery in the Irish Channel neighborhood is set to undergo a major transformation in the coming years as city officials and neighborhood leaders have begun signing off on plans for the demolition of the old warehouses and construction of 17 single-family homes. Continue reading »

Apr 062015
 

Owen Courreges

If I had to write a motto for the Historic District Landmarks Commission (HDLC), it would be: “Making you kiss the ring to replace your roof.”

There are few examples of useless bureaucratic slime worse than the HDLC. This gaggle of architectural fetishists has crafted a Byzantine set of design guidelines, many of which have nothing whatsoever to do with preservation and appear specifically designed to render any renovation prohibitively expensive.

The only saving grace of the HDLC is that their authority is limited to a small number of core neighborhoods. This is kind of like saying that the saving grace of buck moth caterpillars is that they only come out in the Spring – it’s a restraint, but not exactly what I’d call a redeeming quality. 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 »

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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 042015
 
A photo of 3008 Lowerline Street included in city documents. (via nola.gov.)

A photo of 3008 Lowerline Street included in city documents. (via nola.gov.)

Stacy Head

Stacy Head

LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

A demolition request on Lowerline Street by St. Mary’s Dominican High School received approval from a split New Orleans City Council last week, reopening the debate about the role of historic preservation that has simmered between prominent members over the past year. Continue reading »

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Sep 182014
 
Megan Fuselier and Matt Wilson (left) and Safety and Permits director Jared Munster (far right) listen as Councilwoman Susan Guidry speaks during Thursday's meeting of the New Orleans City Council. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Megan Fuselier and Matt Wilson (left) and Safety and Permits director Jared Munster (far right) listen as Councilwoman Susan Guidry speaks during Thursday’s meeting of the New Orleans City Council. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

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. Continue reading »

Sep 152014
 
The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

The Preservation Resource Center recently celebrated the renovation of the Rountree House at 1421 Josephine, noting that a sketch of it is included in the PRC logo. (image via Preservation Resource Center)

Owen Courreges

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. Continue reading »

Sep 052014
 
820 General Pershing Street, photographed in December 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

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

LaToya Cantrell

LaToya Cantrell

Stacy Head

Stacy Head

In early 2013 — barely a month after she was sworn into office — City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell issued a statement forcefully proclaiming her opposition to the demolition of a century-old house at 820 General Pershing that was essential to the “the residential fabric of the community,” she said.

On Thursday — citing an impasse that fellow Councilmember Stacy Head described as a more of a “hostage” situation — Cantrell voted to approve the demolition of the same property. Cantrell declined to explain the reason for her change of heart, but residents who met with her extensively leading up to the decision said it may have to do with concerns about the viability of the city’s overall process for denying the demolition of historic properties. Continue reading »

Aug 262014
 
Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

Streetlight repairs have been completed in neighborhoods marked in green, are underway in pink areas, and still to come in orange zones, as of August. (source: nola.gov/DPW)

When New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked the residents of City Council District B how the city should spend their tax money Tuesday night, the answers nearly all involved streets: the holes in them, the lack of light on them, and the people who sleep on them.

Most of those problems — like all of those before the 300-year-old city — lack easy answers, and have been compounding for decades, Landrieu replied. But on at least one complaint, there is a glimmer of hope: the long-darkened streetlights along St. Charles Avenue are scheduled for repair in September. 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 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 »

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 082014
 
The building housing the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University is slated to be replaced with a new building, but its demolition will require City Council approval. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

The building housing the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane University is slated to be replaced with a new building, but its demolition will require City Council approval. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Tulane University has withdrawn its request to tear down a 100-year-old home used for offices of the Newcomb College Institute, city officials confirmed Tuesday, amid a growing protest from Newcomb alumnae and others. Continue reading »

Jul 082014
 
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)

The request to tear down a building to make way for the new Oak Lofts condo and gym complex and demolition requests in nearly every other corner of Uptown New Orleans were delayed by two weeks, after the city panel failed to gather enough members to hold a meeting legally on Monday — in part because five of its 13 seats are vacant, officials said. Continue reading »

Jun 272014
 

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore speaks in February at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore speaks in February at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, who has become one of Louisiana’s most prominent environmental-justice activists since his retirement from the U.S. Army, spoke Thursday night at a rally at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church against the rebuilding of the Booker T. Washington School on the 1930s-era Silver City waste dump site in Central City, where dangerous levels of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals reportedly remain in the soil. The Recovery School District says replacing the top layer of soil will be sufficient to make it safe for Walter L. Cohen High School to move in, reports Tania Dall of our partners at WWL-TV.

Continue reading »