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 »

Jun 162014
 
(via habananeworleans.com)

The corner of Esplanade and Rampart, site of the proposed Habana Outpost. (via habananeworleans.com)

Owen Courreges

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. Continue reading »

Jun 032014
 
820 General Pershing Street, photographed in December 2012. (UptownMessenger.com file photo)

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

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. Continue reading »

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May 202014
 

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

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

With demolition of its building looming on the horizon, the Roly Poly on Tchoupitoulas will close by the end of May, and the owners are looking for a buyer for the business or its kitchen equipment, they said. Continue reading »

Apr 232014
 
Before and after photos of 1800 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Before and after photos of 1817-19 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Jean-Paul Villere

Jean-Paul Villere

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. Continue reading »

Mar 172014
 
Plans for a new Regions Bank to replace the Roly Poly and an adjacent house on Tchoupitoulas by architect Richard Whitston of Kentucky. (via New Orleans City Council)

Plans for a new Regions Bank to replace the Roly Poly and an adjacent house on Tchoupitoulas by architect Richard Whitston of Kentucky. (via New Orleans City Council)

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

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

The Roly Poly restaurant on Tchoupitoulas Street is slated be torn down and replaced with a new Regions Bank at the corner of Jefferson Avenue, according to a demolition request pending before the city. Continue reading »

Mar 062014
 

Blight on Simon Bolivar (Uptown Messenger stock photo).

A new “lot maintenance program” passed by New Orleans City Council will allow the city to cut grass on blighted private property, recording the cost on that property owner’s tax bill.

The program, created as part of an amendment to an existing ordinance, allows the city to cut overgrowth, remove debris and perform routine maintenance on a private lot if the grass or growth is over 18 inches, there is trash or debris and/or if there is “noxious” growth, such as poison ivy, according to a presentation given by city administration in a Housing and Human Needs committee last month. Continue reading »