In a surprising move near a busy commercial corridor, city planning staffers are suggesting that a three-story addition to the Poydras Home retirement community be accompanied by fewer off-street parking spaces than the project originally envisioned, in an apparent effort to maximize the site’s green space.
Poydras Home currently has 35 parking spaces in a main lot off Jefferson and a smaller one off Leontine, according to the City Planning Commission staff report on the project prior to Tuesday’s meeting. The new building at the facility would raise the required number of off-street parking spaces to 47, a figure that architects had planned to meet by adding two more spaces in the Jefferson lot and creating 10 spaces along a new driveway in front of the new building.
Any change to the dense commercial stretch of Magazine between Jefferson and Nashville in the past year has been fraught with parking worries, and neighbors to the building likewise said in June that they were concerned about the parking impact of the Poydras Home project. After meeting with the architects, however, the neighbors said they were reassured by the developers’ promises not to ask for a parking waiver.
“The only complaint we’ve heard from anyone in the neighborhood has been to make sure that we’re providing an acceptable amount of parking,” wrote architect Tim Lupin of Mathes Brierre in an email Monday afternoon. “We feel like we’ve preserved quite a bit of green space and still are able to accommodate the parking required by zoning.”
The green space, however, was a higher priority for the city planning commission staff.
“Though the parking spaces are setback from the Magazine Street right-of-way, their presence will be visible from the Magazine Street public right-of-way,” the staff writes in its report (page 7). “This development pattern is inconsistent with the current development pattern within the area.
“Additionally, the staff believes the presence of the great lawn in front of the structure will be compromised by the presence of automobiles,” the report continues. “The removal of the proposed parking in the front of the new structure would reinforce the continuity of the buildings on site and preserve the great lawns presence along the Magazine Street without interruption.”
Accordingly, the planning staff recommends the City Planning Commission waive 10 of the 47 on-site parking spaces that would be required. This conclusion is similar to that expressed in the lone letter to the commission about the project included in the report.
“I take no exception to the planned new buildings, but I feel that the new driveway will scar the Poydras Home’s iconic front lawn and forever change the feeling that this landmark imparts to the immediate neighborhood,” writes Jack Sawyer, an across-the-street neighbor. “I think it is a serious degradation of my neighborhood’s character to trade a historic and beautiful green space for a parking lot.”
The staff’s recommendations will be part of Tuesday’s hearing on the project, which begins at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall and may also include a presentation from Poydras Home officials and comments from the public. The appointed city planning commissioners will then vote on a recommendation to make to the City Council, which will make a final decision on the project.
Contact Robert Morris at rmorris@NolaMessenger.com, or post your comment below.