Artists’ co-op bed-and-breakfast at Race and Magazine gets initial city approval

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Pedestrians walk past the vacant lot at 1476 Magazine Street in 2011 . It is now slated to become a bed-and-breakfasts staffed by artists who live on site.
( file photo by Sabree Hill)

An artist-run bed-and-breakfast is one step closer to fruition in the Lower Garden District after approval for a zoning waiver.

Developers want to construct a three story mixed-use building consisting of a ground floor office, a second-floor bed and breakfast with nine guest rooms and a third-floor four-bedroom residence for artists. The structure would have two covered off-street stacked parking spaces on the ground floor with access from Race Street.

Charles Rutledge, developer, asked the Board of Zoning Appeals for a waiver of rear yard space for the project. The front of the structure is planned as three-stories, but neighbors requested the rear height be reduced by one story. In order to make up for lost space, Rutledge’s team pushed the second-story rear building all the way to the yard line.

“We’ve been working with neighbors for over a year and they requested we reduce the rear height,” Rutledge said.

The mixed-use development would sit on a former gas station lot that’s now used as a paved lot for surface parking at the corner of Magazine and Race streets. The office space would be occupied by an architecture firm, Rutledge said, The artists’ lodging, known as Artists Coop B&B, is based off a successful model in New York.

Four live-on-site artists and three live-off-site artists work 10 to 15 hours per week each at the bed and breakfast in exchange for housing, food and a cash stipend. The artists then have the other days of the week to pursue their art.

“This model has proven to be most impactful, not only upon the artists, but also the guests of the B&B,” Rutledge said. “The goal ultimately is for the Artist Co-op to own the B&B.”

City staff recommended approval of the waiver – which reduces the 15-foot minimum yardage space to zero – subject to five provisos. Those provisos include submitting building design plans to the BZA, Historic District Landmarks Commission and City planning Commission. The developer is also asked to repair any damage to public sidewalks and get Department of Public Works’ approval to install a curb cut.

Julie Simpson, president of the Coliseum Square Association, sent a letter of support to the board after developers pitched their plans to to neighborhood association in March. In the letter, Simpson commends Rutledge’s attention to neighbors’ concerns and involvement of the community.

“This site has undergone many iterations of proposed uses in the past, this particular iteration was received very much in favor by concerned parties and the developer was thanked by neighbors for addressing past concerns and taking their requests into consideration,” Simpson said.

The board passed the motion without any opposition from the audience.

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