Controversial storage facility proposed for Tchoupitoulas withdrawn by developer

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A rendering of the proposed CubeSmart storage facility on Tchoupitoulas that was withdrawn from City Council consideration this week. (via city of New Orleans)

A self-storage facility proposed for Tchoupitoulas Street that drew opposition from the Irish Channel last month was withdrawn from consideration by the City Council on Thursday, officials said.

CubeSmart storage was proposing to build a five-story, 888-unit facility in the 2600 block of Tchoupitoulas Street (with frontage on Third and Rousseau streets), on an L-shaped site that would replace three other warehouses. City regulations required 36 parking spaces for a building of that size, but development plans only showed six.

The proposal was the subject of a June 12 meeting before the City Planning Commission, where developers argued that their design was developed over five months of negotiations with city architecture experts. Storage units, they said, are among the uses with the least impact on a surrounding neighborhood, and very little parking is needed since customers visit so infrequently.

Neighbors, however, said their primary concern was the height and design, which resident Al Bostick called an “insult to the neighborhood.” They said self-storage options already abound nearby, and Bill Sawicki of the Irish Channel Neighborhood Association noted that two other new self-storage facilities are being built to only three stories, not five.

City Planning Commissioners were likewise split on the issue. Robert Steeg expressed confidence in the Historic District Landmarks Commission to address any design issues; Kelly Brown agreed that self-storage is a low-impact use at the edge of a neighborhood; and Eugene Green said residents are tired of seeing the empty, vandalized warehouses such as those CubeSmart would replace.

Commissioner Jonathan Stewart said he planned to vote against the project because of his concerns about parking; Jason Hughes criticized the developer for failing to reach a compromise with neighbors, and others said the project was out of scale. Commissioners ultimately voted 5-2 against the project, with Brown joining the opposition after hearing their reasoning.

When the request reached the agenda of the full City Council on Thursday afternoon (July 12), the council clerk said it had been “withdrawn per the applicant’s request.” A July 11 letter from attorney Thomas McAlister confirms that the developer was withdrawing the application for a conditional use, but offers no details on the decision.

Two other new storage facilities along the Uptown riverside corridor have won easier approval in recent months, a three-story facility at 4866 Tchoupitoulas in January and a three-story expansion of Safeguard Storage at 939 Erato on Tuesday. Neither project drew public opposition.

See the June 12 meeting of the City Planning Commission below:

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