Commercial space, apartments planned for vacant lot on Magazine

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The new development proposed for Magazine Street between Richard and Felicity streets. (rendering by Studio WTA, courtesy of Wayne Troyer)

The new development proposed for Magazine Street between Richard and Felicity streets. (rendering by Studio WTA, courtesy of Wayne Troyer)

A large, long-vacant lot on Magazine Street in the Lower Garden District is now planned to become home to a new development with ground-floor commercial space and apartments above, the New Orleans-based developer told neighbors this week.

Tom Winingder, whose company is also renovating the nearby St. Anna’s Residence on Prytania Street, said the lot on Magazine at Richard Street will have a three-story building with 36 apartments, as well as 4,750 square feet of commercial space along Magazine Street, echoing the layout of other nearby blocks of Magazine.

“We’re trying to base this off a traditional model you see on Magazine Street, where you have commercial on the ground floor and residential above,” architect Wayne Troyer told the Coliseum Square Association on Monday evening.

In response to questions from the association, Troyer said no tenant has been selected for the commercial space, and it is really to early to begin figuring out how that part of the project will be divided up. The developer plans for the business use to be in keeping with Magazine Street, however.

“We would like to keep it local,” Troyer said. “There’s been no talk of trying to bring a big box in.”

Nine of the apartments will have one bedroom, and the other 27 will be two-bedroom units. They may be marketed to people seeking second homes in New Orleans who want to enjoy the pedestrian-oriented lifestyle of Magazine Street, Troyer said.

The project is designed to fit into current zoning requirements for the site, and will include 54 parking spaces within the lot. The ground floor on the front of the building will have 17-foot ceilings, so that the parking can fit under the three stories of apartments in the rear, Troyer explained.

“The ideal is not to see parking from the street,” Troyer said, also adding in response to another question that no on-street parking will be eliminated for loading zones.

Troyer noted that in his 21 years of living nearby, his only memory of use of the site is as a community garden. The architecture is being designed with the historic context of the neighborhood in mind, with a glass facade and iron columns on the ground floor, and brick above, he said.

“We think this is a respectful and responsive building that relates very much to Magazine Street,” Troyer said. “We’re definitely looking for a building that’s in a traditional mode. We don’t want this building to look like it’s from 1865, but we want it to have the spirit of that era.”

The developers have yet to file with the Historic District Landmarks Commission, but plan to do so later this month, they said.

Following Troyer’s presentation, the Coliseum Square Association voted to support the project pending the recommendations of the HDLC.

22 thoughts on “Commercial space, apartments planned for vacant lot on Magazine

  1. I like that the developer has stated his view that parking should not be visible from the street. Amen!

    He may not want it to look like it’s from 1865, but I’d imagine most people would. At the least, I would hope he would consider wrap-around iron galleries with french doors opening onto them.

    I don’t understand why all these architects keep designing buildings for New Orleans whose apartment / condo windows don’t open or don’t allow access to the outside. This is New Orleans, people come here BECAUSE so may of our buildings look old and they buy condos overlooking historic streets like Magazine with the intention that they can have their living spaces opened onto the outside and sit on their balconies overlooking their neighbours below whilst drinking their morning coffee or sipping an after work cocktail.

    Why on earth would you not want to capitalise on that?

    No one has ever hopped on a plane flown to New Orleans and proclaimed “show me Metairie,” or for that matter rushed to buy their tickets to tour our generic Americana contemporary architecture. They come here for our history and the historical feel of our unique local architectural styles.

    Every time a developer puts up something blah like this that dilutes the concentration of New Orleans architecture, it weakens the host neighbourhood, weakens our city’s ability to draw people, and once you get to a critical mass of incongruent architecture, it tosses the historical fabric and with it much of the property values of that area out the (potentially non-opening) window.

    I’m glad to see Mr. Troyer’s commitment to the Garden District continuing, but I hope he’ll reconsider the chosen design of his investment toward one that contributes to the neighbourhood rather than this current one which would certainly detract.

      • Doesn’t look that bad. The rendering shows a flat orange color, but it will most certainly be brick as HDLC wouldn’t allow anything else. The design is simple but reminds me of the 3/4-story old Federal style buildings scattered around the CBD.

        • ardecila,

          Good catch. It looks kind of a like a modern take on an old design — which the city is supposed to be approving of.

    • Drew – If they waived off-street parking requirements, I’m sure the developer would be more willing to use additional space for porches, but given that they’re going to have to fit over fifty parking spaces in there, I can see how that would be a problem.

      This design is pretty much in line with what the city requires. Is it a bit dull? Sure, but it’s a reasonably attractive contemporary design. If the city wants to eschew all contemporary architecture, it should just say so. Until then, there’s not a very sound basis for opposition.

      • They would actually be gaining space as so long as you do full depth wrap-around galleries versus shallow separate balconies, code allows you to extend out beyond the property line and over the sidewalks (as in the Qtr and CBD). The shade and rain cover also helps make the street more walkable.

        It’s really just wasted opportunity when architects here don’t take advantage of the chance to add (in this case) an additional 8,000 sq ft of outdoor living space they would otherwise not be able to fit onto their lot and to be able to do so for only the cost of some metal work.

        • Drew – I agree it would be nice, but extending out into the sidewalk strikes me as something that’s probably pretty expensive with modern building codes (they’d have to dig out part of the sidewalk and put in a proper foundation for the columns). I think this is why so many buildings that originally had the wrap-around galleries no longer do, even if they’ve been renovated.

          The design here isn’t that great according to my tastes, but it’s reasonable enough to where I think it ought to be approved.

          • Re. sidewalk balconies, the renovator of the building I live in added iron balconies extending over the sidewalk that were never part of the original structure. It’s not prohibitively expensive, and certianly much cheaper per square foot than the building to which they would be attached.

      • This has commercial & parking access on the first floor; nobody is talking about wanting porches on a Magazine St. apartment building. The space that could be occupied by balconies, however, is just thin air in this rendering. Even Juliet balconies would make it look a bit better and add a residential amenity, despite doing nothing for the comfort of those on the sunny/rainy sidewalk.

    • Many people in this town are quick to judge and complain while making no effort to understand the underlying complexities of building in this city.

      Wayne Troyer is a highly regarded award-winning New Orleans architect with a string of outstanding designs to his credit. He happens to live a pebble’s throw from the project site. He also happens to sit on the HDLC Architectural Review Committee. The developer should be praised for insisting on having highly qualified and talented local professionals guide his project.

    • One of the problems with new construction in old historic neighborhoods is that the HDLC requires the architecture to be modern and not look “old” therefore it really doesn’t, in my estimatiion, properly “fit in.” They seem to want to make sure that people know at a glance what’s old and what’s new.

  2. “They may be marketed to people seeking second homes in New Orleans who want to enjoy the pedestrian-oriented lifestyle of Magazine Street.”
    You lost me there, Mr. Troyer.

    • I agree! I live in a one bedroom apartment nearby. My rent goes up every year now. The tourists can have this city. I’m plotting my escape from this whole state. It’s becoming even more of a gentrification situation. I am so turned off.

  3. This is a big project.

    63 potential cars from the residences alone plus parking needed for the commercial units and this allocates only 54 spots total. Not ideal as parking is already is tight in this area. What’s the allocation of residential to commercial spots?

    Also, this lot has a significant water retention capacity and this project will significantly alter the amount of rainwater running into the street. Not saying they shouldn’t be able to develop the property but I think that should be a consideration during the approval of the project. Is a green roof possible to alleviate this significant change in volume?

    This block of Magazine really is the border of mixed-use to residential. This project is going to be a big exclamation point on that zoning change.

    • Ronald,

      >>63 potential cars from the residences alone plus parking needed for the commercial units and this allocates only 54 spots total. Not ideal as parking is already is tight in this area.<>Also, this lot has a significant water retention capacity and this project will significantly alter the amount of rainwater running into the street. Not saying they shouldn’t be able to develop the property but I think that should be a consideration during the approval of the project.<>This block of Magazine really is the border of mixed-use to residential. This project is going to be a big exclamation point on that zoning change.<<

      The entire area is pretty much mixed use. A block further down is a coffee shop and St. Vincent's, which is a hostel with a restaurant. It's Magazine. A low-rise with commercial and apartments/condos is incredibly appropriate.

      • ROLAND Owen, not Ronald.

        And the fact is water retention is an issue the city is trying to address. News came out the other day on the city issues warnings to property owners who built driveways in their yards to voluntarily address this. I’m sure you heard about that.

        I never said it wasn’t an appropriate project, I was only commenting on what this is going to look like adjacent to a small homes on the downtown side of the property.

  4. Awnings below transoms that face the morning sun, no balconies, & residential with cheap commercial windows? It looks unfinished & uncomfortable, and the worst components of this design could be so easily corrected to make it a gem. Housing “marketed to people seeking second homes” is no excuse for stuffy boxes with shadeless sidewalks. Comfortable & inviting public spaces build community, and if long-term tourists are your market, you need to go the extra mile to compensate for that. I rent a second home in CSP, myself–an airy, restored 19th c house with balconies & shady porches–and I love and take pride in being a part of the neighborhood. Infill and housing demand can be addressed without dragging everyone down; it should do just the opposite.

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