A restaurant and brewery complex is in the works for the area behind the Carrollton Avenue post office that was once home to the Hollygrove Market.
On what is now an empty lot with some abandoned industrial buildings, developers are planning the Catalyst Microbrewery and Restaurant. The redeveloped site at 8301 Olive St. will include two buildings, one for the brewery and another for the restaurant, with off-street parking, outdoor seating and an urban garden.
The urban garden is apropos for the site’s history. From 2008 to 2018, the nonprofit Hollygrove Market combined urban gardening with a market for local small-scale growers. Before Hurricane Katrina, the site held a nursery and garden center.
The Catalyst Microbrewery and Restaurant is in the early stages of development. An initial step, a virtual Neighborhood Participation Program community meeting, took place via Zoom on Wednesday (Feb. 17).
A variance is needed from the city because the proposed development is more than 5,000 square feet and is located in a HU-MU neighborhood that requires a conditional mixed-use permit. The restaurant and brewery will total 6,813 square feet as planned.
The group proposing the development, Grove Holly LLC, was registered with the state in November 2019 by Elise Cahn, its sole officer. Grove Holly was represented at the meeting by Bob Ellis and Nicole Burdette of the R.J. Ellis Law Firm.
The site now has some metal sheds, small warehouse structures, fragmented concrete pads and overgrown plants. The buildings will be demolished and the ground cleared before work begins. A stormwater management system will be installed, according to plans filed with the city.
A 14 Parishes restaurant had been proposed for the area. When asked whether the Catalyst restaurant was the same as a previously planned 14 Parishes expansion, the presenters said they are unrelated — noting that the Jamaican restaurant, with locations in the Pythian Market and Central City, has instead set its sights on Oak Street.
Ernest Burford, who owns two nearby properties, asked about parking. The off-street lot will have space for 18 cars, the presenters said, with a little overflow parking into the neighborhood.
The team also replied in the negative to his questions of whether the railroad tracks would be removed; if there would be any right-of-way into the neighborhood; or if there was any eminent domain involved. Burford also raised the issue, on behalf of another neighbor, of nuisance noise and lighting.
Architect Brooks Graham of Graham Little Studio approached the noise issue, saying there would only rarely be events and that the noise would be contained inside, and things will close at 11 p.m.
As for the lighting, he said, it will comply with the city ordinances and be low-level lighting to create a mood. The developers themselves raised the issue of the harsh lighting on a playground and athletic field across from the site.
Burford also stated his property taxes had just tripled on his Joliet Street property and wondered if this development was to blame. The reply was that the assessor does not take future property development into account.
Another neighbor raised the issue that Olive Street has been made one-way and that it would be good to try to get it to revert back to a two-way street to ease congestion. There was agreement that approaching from Carrollton Avenue would present a challenge; drivers would have to either make a U-turn and double back or cross multiple lanes of oncoming traffic to enter the neighborhood.
The planned development will head to the City Planning Commission for review and a hearing, and then to the City Council for final approval.