Viewpoint: Returning tourists drive New Orleans business recovery

City College of San Francisco biology professor Jonathan Siekmann was enjoying his visit to New Orleans when he spotted Meyer the Hatter, known to be the South’s largest hat store. Within minutes, Siekmann was sporting a new Panama-style straw to shield him from the Louisiana sun. “The pandemic has been a struggle. It was the worst business climate I’ve ever seen in my 46 years selling hats,” said Paul Meyer, a fourth generation hatter. “We depend on tourists and, until recently, there just weren’t any.”

Meyer’s great-great grandfather Samuel H. Meyer started the business in 1894 on St.

Police seek person of interest in September homicide on South Saratoga Street

The New Orleans Police Department is seeking a man identified as a person of interest for questioning in the investigation of a homicide on Sept. 9 in the 1300 block of South Saratoga Street. Gene T. Harris, 33, has been developed as a person of interest in the shooting death of 19-year-old Gerren Green. Green was found dead of a gunshot wound on South Saratoga and Thalia Street in Central City. Harris is not currently wanted on criminal charges regarding this incident.

Silver Lining: Vegan meal service flourishes during pandemic

A pot of red cacciatore sauce bubbles on the stove, sliced eggplants roast in the oven, and bright green bowls of salad are piled high with chickpeas and jewel-like cherry tomatoes. An Italian feast is being prepared – but while Mediterranean flavors abound, there’s no cream, cheese or meat to be found. At Clairly Vegan, owner Claire Steiner has been attracting customers with plant-based versions of classic flavors. Steiner started her vegan catering and delivery business just this June in her own kitchen, with her mother, Anna Cannizzaro Steiner, helping out. “She would come over and we would cook away all day,” she said. 

The business now sells 75 to 100 orders per week out of Carrollton Commissary, a rented kitchen space on Willow Street.

Road repair and repaving coming to Octavia Street in April

The Octavia Street roadwork project — which encompasses work on seven blocks of Octavia Street, from South Claiborne Avenue to Freret Street, and 10 blocks branching off of Octavia — is set to begin in April and conclude at the end of the year. The $5.1 million project is part of the city-wide Capital Improvement Program, a roughly $2.2 billion collection of over 200 projects around the city, aimed at upgrading roads, sewerage and other infrastructure. 

On Monday (March 29) evening, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Engagement hosted an online meeting to inform residents and field questions about street repair work coming to Octavia and the side streets between Claiborne and Freret. Kimberly Turner, the outreach coordinator with Roadwork NOLA, noted that the residents had waited for the upcoming improvements “for a while.”

Octavia Street will be getting full reconstruction work in the 2300 to 2900 blocks. This involves repairing sewerage, water and drainage lines; completely reconstructing the street; and performing sidewalk repair. The side streets will receive patch mill/overlay work, which will repave the asphalt, fix the sidewalks, and perform upgrades to the curb cuts to bring them into ADA compliance as needed.

11-unit apartment building planned for empty lot on Tchoupitoulas Street

Developers are planning to build a new residential building with 11 apartments on an empty lot on Tchoupitoulas Street near Amelia. But first, they’ll have to face the concerns of local residents who say the proposed structure will cause parking headaches in their neighborhood. The developers are proposing to build a 40-foot building on a lot that’s a little over 4,400 square feet. The plans call for eight one-bedroom apartments ranging from 715 to 860 square feet and three two-bedroom apartments that would be 935 square feet. 

The main architect of the proposed building on 3667 Tchoupitoulas, Charles Neyrey of M2 Studio, presented his plans at a virtual neighborhood meeting on Thursday. The neighborhood meeting was required before the studio can apply to the City Planning Commission to become an Affordable Housing Planned Development. 

“I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how you can fit 11 units with parking on that little lot,” P. Adam Kelly, a member of the Faubourg Delachaise Neighborhood Association, told Neyrey. 

The city allows developers to build more units on one lot if they reserve 10% of the apartments for affordable housing.

Police blotter: Two shootings, an armed robbery, a stabbing

Two shootings were reported in Central City this week, including a drive-by that left a woman with multiple gunshot wounds. In the other, a single bullet injured a man in the back. Other crimes reported by the New Orleans Police Department include an early morning armed robbery of a driver in Gert Town and the domestic stabbing of a teenage girl in Pigeon Town. Driver robbed in Gert Town

A man stopped for a stop sign at Pine and Edinburgh streets on Friday (March 26) at about 3 a.m. when two men approached. One came up to him from behind and the other from the side with a gun.

Students revitalize community gardens around Broadmoor

Broadmoor is coming into full bloom this spring as the Broadmoor Improvement Association and Tulane students lead efforts to revitalize three local community gardens. Two of the gardens – the Food Forest on Toledano Street near Dorgenois Street and another produce patch at the Broadmoor Community Church – will produce fresh herbs and vegetables for the Broadmoor Food Pantry. A rain garden at South Miro and Gen. Taylor streets will help mitigate flooding and beautify the area with native plants like cattails, cypress trees and irises. 

The goal of the gardens is simple: “We grow food and we nurture plants to bring people together,” said Dorothy Jelagat Cheruiyot, a professor of ecology and biology at Tulane University. Cheruiyot’s students are working as busily as bees in the Broadmoor gardens each week as part of internships and classes related to urban agroecology, as well as an additional garden at the New Zion Baptist Church in Central City. But the ultimate goal is to recruit neighborhood volunteers so that the lots will truly be sustainable community gardens, with an emphasis on the community.

Viewpoint: Did James Singleton Charter School and Dryades YMCA officials put children at risk?

The Dryades YMCA and its affiliate programs, including the School of Commerce and the James M. Singleton Charter School, have played an important role in providing recreational and educational services to New Orleanians for almost a century. The Dryades Y is well known for its child care services, aquatics programs, mobile youth pantry, young filmmakers’ workshop and, formerly, Midnight Basketball. 

The Dryades School of Commerce goes back to 1928, when it began offering classes in clerical skills such as bookkeeping, speedwriting and typing. With the leadership of District B Councilman Jay Banks, the School of Commerce currently operates a state-certified program to train licensed practical nurses. Under the direction of Principal Erika Mann, the James M. Singleton Charter School has successfully raised the test scores of their students, many of whom are considered disadvantaged. The Dryades Y board of directors includes respected members of the community such as cultural leader Barbara Lacen Keller, the Rev. Tom Watson, investment consultant Ed Shanklin, attorney Carlos Hornbrook and contractor Cedric Patin. 

Now a story in The Lens has revealed that the charter school reportedly falsified some of the criminal background checks required for school employees.

Pop-up exhibit shows house floats you may have missed

A pop-up exhibition of the House Float art installations that dotted New Orleans’ neighborhoods during the 2021 Carnival season is on display for the next two weekends at the Contemporary Art Center, while the pieces are auctioned off online. These are the “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” floats co-sponsored by the Krewe of Red Beans. The artistic creations from select house floats will be on view in one location for the first time — and the last time. They individual float pieces are being sold through an online auction that will benefit the New Orleans’ culture-bearers, through the krewe’s Feed the Second-Line initiative, and the CAC. The auction is live until April 4 and available here.