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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Two new and free blight-fighting tools will be unveiled at an event in Zion City this Saturday (June 28), and Councilmember LaToya Cantrell will be featured as a guest speaker.
Put a fork in it. The Louisiana Landmarks Society is done. They’ve bought the farm, cashed in their chips, and kicked the proverbial bucket.
I could go on listing aphorisms signifying death or obsolescence, but the gist is that the Louisiana Landmarks Society has become a joke. They have abandoned their mission of helping preserve landmarks in favor of the far less laudable enterprise of hawking restrictive zoning for the benefit of local NIMBYs.
I have reached this conclusion following the society’s release of its annual “New Orleans Nine Most Endangered List,” which lists “at-risk historic properties.” The Louisiana Landmarks Society as a whole was founded in 1950 in order to promote historic preservation, and the list was envisioned as a means to highlight certain properties at risk of being lost.
After this year’s list, it’s clear that is no longer the society’s agenda.
Preservation Resource Center members and nonmembers are invited to visit a 19th-century home that survived a former owner’s demolition request and is now getting a second chance at life.
The proposed demolition of a century-old home on General Pershing just off Magazine — a point of contention for years between owners who want to tear it down and neighbors who want to see it renovated — was rejected again Monday afternoon for the third time in less than two years.
It’s no secret to those that have dipped their toe in the water of New Orleans real estate recently that the stream of activity resembles more of a rushing rapid with unexpected twists and turns included. The tone of the market possesses a buzz that surprises even the most seasoned flippers and investors, and it shows more promise than concern. We all know these things ebb and flow, but it’s the perception of spaces that is changing the fastest, the intangible becoming realized in the tangible. More specifically, let’s look at a cute double that recently flipped in the heart of Central City, but hold on to your hat. And, as usual, for clarity/disclosure, I did not participate in any part in any of these sales; effectively, I am only an observer fascinated by the pace at which these changes are taking place.