Beginning this fall, the legendary Dew Drop Inn in Central City is set to host live music for the first time in more than half a century. The city’s leading Black music venue for three mid-century decades, the club billed as “the swankiest spot in the South” holds a hallowed place in New Orleans cultural history and in rock ’n’ roll and rhythm-and-blues history. Lead developer Curtis Doucette Jr. told Uptown Messenger they are planning a mid-October opening for the music club. No word yet on the opening act, but he said he wants to bring back as many of the original Dew Drop musicians as he can. Of course, the Dew Drop community of musicians dates from the 1940s to 1970, so few remain on the scene.
More than 60 bags of trash and more than a dozen bulk items were carted away from the Hollygrove-Dixon area on Saturday (Oct. 8), the Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office reported. The cleanup was part of the Neighborhood Cares Initiative, a comprehensive, coordinated initiative combining the efforts of multiple city departments and volunteers from the community. More than 30 volunteers participated. On Saturday and throughout the previous week, city departments patched over 100 potholes, cut 29 overgrown lots and cleared dumping sites throughout the neighborhood.
A revival is taking place at a century-old movie house in the Milan neighborhood.
When it began life in 1917, the Fine Arts Theater at Constantinople and Baronne streets anchored a small but thriving neighborhood business corridor.
That was still true in 1946, when Dave Martin opened Martin Wine Cellar a block away. Nearby residents were within walking distance of nearly everything a family might need. There was a pharmacy, barber shop, laundry, tailor, meat market, grocery store and bakery — plus the neighborhood movie theater. Now the Fine Arts Theater building, a city landmark fresh off of a nearly $2 million redevelopment, holds the promise of revitalizing the small business district.
Zee’s Pizzeria has moved into the Fine Arts building’s row of commercial spaces on Baronne. Beth Biundo Sweets, a bakery, is across the street, and Lucy Boone Ice Cream plans to open a shop next to Zee’s in the Fine Arts. And, of course, Martin Wine & Spirits continues to offer a deli as well as packaged adult beverages.
A blighted firehouse on Louisiana Avenue could be transformed into affordable housing and an early childhood center, if plans submitted to the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority are granted final approval. The proposal was presented Wednesday evening (July 27) at a public Zoom meeting to inform the community about ongoing plans for renovating and repurposing the disused firehouse at 2314 Louisiana Ave.
Mid-July marked the close of NORA’s solicitation for the development proposal period, and the organizations Home by Hand and Alembic Community Development presented their joint plans for the site. Their proposal would see the old firehouse renovated to become an early childhood education center on the ground floor and seven affordable rental units on the two floors above. “One of the requirements of the program is that any development that arises from the [NORA-run] program must create either affordable housing units or economic development opportunities in the form of jobs,” said NORA project manager Kyle Gilmore.
The city is leasing the property to NORA for a 99-year term; NORA will then sublease it to a development partner that administers the overall process of putting the building back into use. According to NORA, an award for the sub-lease will be granted Aug.
Officials gathered in Central City on Thursday (July 7) to officially break ground on the restoration of the famed Dew Drop Inn, the city’s leading Black music venue for three mid-century decades. The groundbreaking was complemented by performances from the Beautiful Creole Apache Tribe and Cyril Neville. Speaking at the ceremony, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city is working to redevelop the section of Central City where the Dew Drop Inn Hotel & Lounge at 2836 LaSalle St. can serve as an anchor. “The city of New Orleans is making sure we’re leveraging our dollars in this immediate area,” she said.
New owner of historic home has been trying for years to demolish it. With the council’s reluctant OK, now he can.
The City Council voted Thursday to allow the demolition of a century-old house in the Uptown historic district, while mandating that the owner retain or restore the façade. It was the fifth demolition request for 1230 Webster St. since 2019, after it was put on the market and eventually sold to an Alabama couple. Some requests were withdrawn, others denied. The Historic District Landmarks Commission has repeatedly opposed the demolition.
Saturday (May 21) is Cleanup Day across Uptown neighborhoods in Council District B.
The District B Cleanup Day, organized by Councilmember Lesli Harris’ office, will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and depends on volunteer efforts by neighborhood residents. According to the District B office, Cleanup Day as part of an ongoing effort to improve the quality of life and public safety for District B residents and businesses. “I truly believe a clean city is a safer city, so this is an important effort for all of us to take on,” Harris said, inviting residents to join her in volunteering this Saturday. Thirteen neighborhoods across the Uptown will serve as hosts, each with a designated meeting point (listed below) and a walking route where volunteers will collect trash. Harris’ office will provide gloves, trash bags and masks to each of the locations, and volunteers are encouraged to bring their own materials, including rakes.
By Susan Johnson, guest columnist
From the street, the house at 1025 Henry Clay Ave. resembles an old-fashioned, eclectic California cabin on a generous lot, with an open, full-length wooden porch, chamfered roof, and double front doors with parti-colored inlaid paneling. In its centenary year, it inspires interest, admiration and affection.
Yet the house will soon be torn down, if the new owner has his way. The old cypress tree in the backyard will be cut down, too.
More than this, it looks like the Historic District Landmarks Commission and District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso III are going to let him do it.
On Feb. 2, the HDLC commissioners approved the demolition of 1025 Henry Clay on the recommendation of HDLC staff, with a vote of 10 to 1.
The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority is taking steps to renovate the dilapidated firehouse at 2314 Louisiana Ave. The agency is seeking community input on how to redevelop the 7,000-square-foot city-owned building. On Wednesday evening (March 10), NORA hosted a community meeting via Zoom. The historic firehouse is blighted, and NORA’s goal put it back into commerce. Seth Knudsen, NORA’s real estate development director, said the vacant firehouse is zoned as a historic urban mixed-use district, or HU-MU, which permits residential use as well as a variety of commercial uses from child care to medical and dental clinics to grocery stores and more.
“When we consider the range of things that’s permitted, this is among the most diverse zoning districts in the city and really contemplates a pretty wide range of possible future uses for the structure,” Knudsen said.
The demolition of a former classroom building next to the Carrollton Courthouse cost the developers the highest possible fine levied by the Historic District Landmark Commission, a fine the commissioners bemoaned as not high enough. The wood-frame building, deemed historic by the HDLC, was torn down in May to make room for the an addition to the Greek Revival landmark building, which is being converted to an assisted living and memory-care residence. The 1,400-square-foot school building dates to the 19th century, the HDLC has determined. The Carrollton Courthouse only briefly operated as a courthouse for the town of Carrollton when it was the seat of Jefferson Parish, according to a history of the building by the HDLC. It was converted to a school, then McDonogh 23, after the area was annexed to New Orleans in 1874.
The real estate market in Central City is hot right now. At the high end, a house on South Rampart Street recently sold for $600,000 and two others, on Josephine Street and South Liberty Street, have sold in the $400,000 range. At the other end of the price and move-in ready spectrum, a house on South Robertson Street, which looks like it is only a façade covered in cat’s claw at this point, sold for $30,000. These homes and prices also reflect the evolving housing stock of the neighborhood. A quick drive around reveals modest family homes next to abandoned houses in a state of an advanced decay next to gleaming renovations.