City’s decision on Lower Garden District “nanobrewery” pushed back until March

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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)

The owners of the Courtyard Brewery, a “nano”-scale beer brewery slated for Erato Street in the Lower Garden District, will have to wait another month before finding out the city’s stance on their project, despite strong support among their neighbors.

When the Courtyard Brewery first presented their project to neighbors back in October, they had hoped for a February or March opening. Their request to sell beer out of a small tap room on site was finally placed on the City Planning Commission docket for Jan. 28, and even then felt like the project was moving forward at a surprisingly quick pace, said Lindsay Hellwig, who owns the brewery with her husband, Scott Wood.

Numerous neighbors and the neighborhood association sent in letters of wholehearted support for the project. The City Planning staff issued a report generally in favor of the request, though it contained two conditions — prohibiting live music or any events outdoors on the property — that Hellwig and Wood planned to seek to renegotiate at the Jan. 28 meeting.

That Jan. 28 meeting was canceled, however, as the city shut down for the ice storm. At the time, the couple was told that the delay allowed them time to submit more detailed drawings that might help their case on the outdoor events, which they quickly assembled and sent, Hellwig said. But on Tuesday — when the Planning Commission was scheduled to meet again — city officials told the commissioners that while the drawings had all been received, staff members had not had time to review them, and asked that the decision be deferred for two more meetings.

“They need a month to review what we sent in two days?” Hellwig said in an interview after the meeting. “There goes another month — another month of rent, another month of not making money. It kills a tiny startup.”

Scott Wood, co-owner of the Courtyard Brewery, speaks to the City Planning Commission on Tuesday with 18-month-old Jules in his arms.

Scott Wood, co-owner of the Courtyard Brewery, speaks to the City Planning Commission on Tuesday with 18-month-old Jules in his arms.

Though they had been told ahead of Tuesday’s meeting to expect the deferral, Wood appeared anyway to plead for only a single meeting’s delay. The staff said they would not have time to review the new documents prior to the next meeting, however, so the commissioners then voted to wait the two meetings, setting the Courtyard Brewery on the March 11 docket.

The project must still get final approval from the City Council by April 12, so Hellwig and Wood hope they can still be open by their goal of July 4. But their initial optimism is wearing off, Hellwig said, and she is beginning to understand the repeated warnings they received about the difficult pace of starting a business in New Orleans.

“It’s really frustrating when you do everything immediately, on point, and then there are all of these setbacks,” Hellwig said. “We were like, this is what everyone is talking about.”

The commission heard two other Uptown items Tuesday:

Wine shop on O.C. Haley | Brady’s Wine Warehouse — a new wine shop planned by Patrick Brady on property owned by developer Peter Gardner at 1029 O.C. Haley (in the Central Business District at the edge of Central City) — won approval from the planning commission, despite concerns of some downtown residents who thought it might exacerbate problems with the homeless population who live under the adjacent Pontchartrain Expressway. Attorney Justin Schmidt assured the commission that the plan is for a high-end establishment that will not cater to the homeless, and the item passed.

Parking at the Free School condo redevelopment | The commission also approved a plan to put off-street parking on the site of the former New Orleans Free School at 3601 Camp Street. The lot will be a mix of parking spaces for tenants and contract parking for the general public, developer Steve Montagnet said. The developers are unsure who might end up leasing the parking spots — whether surrounding residents, doctors at nearby Touro Infirmary or others — but neighbors felt the idea would help ease the on-street parking pressure in the area, Montagnet said.

To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.

[Update, Feb. 13: This post has been updated to clarify the ownership of Brady’s Wine Warehouse.]

9 thoughts on “City’s decision on Lower Garden District “nanobrewery” pushed back until March

  1. Does it seems all the City Planning Commission has before it’s plate are a bunch of bar owners or breweries…Oh, health facilities for the mentally ill who, BY THE WAY, got messed up due to these bars and alcohol.

    Is it any wonder why New Orleans continues to decrease in population and a loss of real companies if there are any left.

  2. I agree with the spirit of your comment. I have long supported that the city council pass an ordinance at the very least outlawing the sale of single alcohol beverages from convenience stores. The crime around these stores, the blight they cause, and overall downgrade of the quality of life is terrible. Only bars and licensed distributers should be allowed to sell single drinks. Every city with a higher quality of life has way stricter alcohol policies than New Orleans, with singled out sections of the city devoted to tourism having more amplitude. It makes no sense for Uptown, Garden District, Lakeview, and New Orleans East to have the same alcohol policies then the Quarter, none whatsoever.

  3. Get your facts straight before you pop off. Since 2007 New Orleans has had a 28% population growth (1st in the country by the way). We can discuss the reasons behind this growth and factor in Katrina taking away such a large population prior to the growth etc.. but lets be real and admit there is not a decrease in population.

    Also, business and job growth have been very strong and in some measures top 10 in the country for new business growth.

    • If there was a 28% population growth, shouldn’t there also be at least a 28% sales tax revenue increase from this population growth of new people?

      Don’t these new people have to eat and drink like the rest of the city? And hence pay sales taxes?

      And if this new population growth doesn’t show any sales tax revenue increase, then wouldn’t that be a problem for the city who now have to support 28% more people who don’t add to tax revenue to pay for basic services?

  4. So a buisness wants open up with support of the neighbors in the lower garden district. Lindsay Hellwig and her husband will bring in jobs, taxes, and another thing to do in the area. So of course, the city council sits on it for as long as possible. As usual, they will postpone it as long as possible, so legal fees can just keep adding up on this couple. By the time they do get all thier permits, they wont have enough money for renovations. Why is it so difficult to do anything in this city. Zeas on St Charles took 14months to get all thier permits, the one in Houma had all thier permits in 9 days. We elect these officials, why do they have to postpone everything? Especially when the neighborhood is in favor for it. The voters who put you in this position want this. Stop sitting on your pencils and push this through

    • This happens every single time. Especially if it mildly inconveniences someone with any clout. And people wonder why people are hesitant about opening businesses…

  5. AhContraire – I highly doubt our city’s mentally ill population “got messed up” from visiting microbreweries.

    If you’re looking for a substance abuse “villain,” try somewhere else. I’d start with the troublesome corner-stores throughout the city.

    • You see those “corner-stores” that you say are the trouble of mentally ill? Well guess what?

      They FOLLOW and walk the same legal path of the microbreweries and bars on Bourbon and their attorneys.

      The mentally ill at one time had a great grand parent that visited these microbreweries or bars. Those great grand parents started a step-by-step decline for their children and grand children with each generation drinking more and more while missing work and getting in more and more in trouble. That set an example for the next generation with each future generation getting paid less and less and businesses leaving from the bad kids produced by the previous generation.

      So now this 3rd or more generation can’t find good jobs and are already alcoholics and can afford the microbreweries and need CHEAP BEER from the corner store. The same can be said for these politicians and their kids….You know, the ones you read on the news for DWI and so on?

      So what do you have after a couple of generations?
      The ghetto, French Gutter…

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