Plan to renovate cottages on South Liberty near Louisiana wins widespread praise

A developer’s plan to renovate a cluster of double shotguns on South Liberty Street into a series of two-family cottages is being hailed as a model of affordable historic renovation by neighbors, other builders and preservation activists as the project nears a hearing before the City Planning Commission next week. The project consists of six houses, all neighboring double shotguns on the lake side of the 3400 block of South Liberty Street. Three of the homes — 3417-19, 3421-23 and 3425-27 — sit at the front of their lot on South Liberty, while the other three (called “3417A-19A,” “3421A-23A” and “3425A-27A”) are each in their backyards. Developer Jason Riggs plans to renovate all six homes into five doubles and one single — 3425A-27A will be redesigned into one home — for a total of 11 units. Most of the units will be about 720 square feet, while the two sides of 3425-27 will be slightly smaller at 660 square feet, and the single will be 858 square feet.

Small wine shop planned for South White Street hoping to waive required off-street parking

Developers are hoping to turn a vacant South White Street lot into an intimate wine shop, but three required parking spaces need to be waived in order for the space to be functional, the owners said. Joanne Close and her husband Jim Yonkus are aiming to open a small wine store in the New Zion neighborhood just off South Broad Street. The property, a vacant lot at 1226 South White St., is zoned for heavy commercial use which requires the couple to add three off-street parking spots. But adding those parking spots would swallow up much of the already-tiny lot. “We don’t have to have a huge building – it just has to be functional,” Close told a group of neighbors at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday.

Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee to continue oversight of demolitions in Central City, Hollygrove for another year

The Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee — which oversees demolition requests in a swath of Uptown from Hollygrove to Central City, essentially all of Uptown not governed by historic districts — has been reauthorized for another year. In 2016, the City Council chose to move many of the Uptown neighborhoods along the river and most of Carrollton into oversight of the Historic District Landmarks Commission, which has its own staff and sometimes closer scrutiny of demolition requests. A large section of Uptown — which includes Central City, Broadmoor, Gert Town and Hollygrove — remained under the purview of the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations on demolition requests that must be given a second review and final decision by the City Council. The NCDAC also oversees demolitions in downtown neighborhoods, such as the Lower Ninth Ward and Holy Cross. On Thursday, the City Council voted to reauthorize the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee for an additional year, from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

Caretaker’s cottage on Annunciation, shelter at Audubon Park listed among “Most Endangered” landmarks in New Orleans

The former Danneel School caretaker’s cottage on Annunciation Street and a shelter at Audubon Park are two of this year’s “New Orleans Nine” most endangered historical structures, the Louisiana Landmarks Society announced this week. The overgrown caretaker’s cottage at 5703 Annunciation Street was the subject of outcry by neighbors in 2011, and the Orleans Parish School Board quickly removed the overgrowth after media reports about its condition. It has since been declared surplus property by the School Board, but has not found a new owner, and its condition has continued to deteriorate, the Landmarks Society said:
In the late 19th & early 20th centuries, custodial residences were often placed on school grounds. One such cottage is on the corner of Annunciation and Arabella, part of the uptown campus of the Ben Franklin Elementary School. This historic side-gallery shotgun may be older than the original Rudolph T. P. Danneel School c. 1908.

City Planning staff recommend rezoning for proposed Drive Shack golf facility

The Drive Shack golf facility under consideration for the former Times-Picayune site on Howard Avenue nabbed a recommendation for rezoning approval from City Planning staff, subject to a few building design changes suggested by the Design Advisory Committee. The proposed entertainment hub would require tearing down the old newspaper building completely, but the owners of the property say they are committed to preserving the massive murals inside. The Drive Shack parent company operates 80 golf courses across the United States, but the new Drive Shack entertainment centers represent an effort to make the sport more accessible — no country club memberships are needed, and anyone can show up and start to play the game. Technology in the facility will allow both new and experienced golfers to document and improve their shots. The facility needs a special kind of zoning called a “planned development district.”

Four people injured after Washington Avenue house collapses

A Washington Avenue home collapsed Monday afternoon injuring at least one man and stalling traffic in the area for several hours. The home, in the 2300 block of Washington Avenue near Lasalle St., collapsed a little after 4 p.m. Monday. New Orleans Police blocked traffic to the area for several hours while EMS and Entergy crews were on scene. The home was surrounded by a metal fence and port-o-lets, and neighbors said crews had been working on the home (and a neighboring home) earlier. A next door neighbor named Willy was sitting in front of the collapsed house around 5 p.m. He said was was watching TV when he heard a loud noise, and peeked out his front door.

Former Times Picayune building may become indoor golf entertainment center

The former Times-Picayune building on Howard Avenue (between Uptown and Mid-City) has been vacant for about two years, but a potential investor is seeking to change the industrial building into a hub for entertainment, golf, and food. Drive Shack, a New York-based offshoot of American Golf, has plans to renovate the 62,000 square-foot press building into a large-scale golf entertainment facility.  The tenant is seeking a planned industrial district zoning for the site, and neighbors are invited to learn more before it heads to the City Planning Commission.  
Read the full story by Claire Byun on Mid-City Messenger here.

City holds Catch Basin Cleaning Days for Districts A & D

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Neighborhood Engagement Office will hold Catch Basin Cleaning Days for Districts A and D this Saturday, Oct. 28. Volunteers will clean as many catch basins as possible in a two-hour span. District A’s clean-up will meet at Brooks Shaw Temple UMC at 8818 Pear Street. The District D clean-up in Gentilly will meet at the Beacon Light Church at 1937 Mirabeau Avenue.

City Council allows demolition of two small homes on Benjamin Street lot

A New Jersey doctor won permission from the New Orleans City Council last week to tear down two small homes on Benjamin Street to make room to build a new home on the entire Cherokee Street lot, over the objection of the city’s historic-preservation staff. The two houses at 7463-65 and 7467 Benjamin Street actually sit on the rear of a lot that fronts on Cherokee Street, recently purchased by Gary Wasserman, a Tulane-trained urologist who practiced in New Jersey. The buildings are “ramshackle” structures that Wasserman wants to demolish so that he can build a 2,900-square-foot home on the 301 Cherokee Street lot, said architect Brian Gille. The smaller building at 7467 Benjamin is not considered historic, but the larger one is a one-story double shotgun built in the early 20th Century that does contribute to the character of the neighborhood, said Elliott Perkins, director of the Historic Districts Landmarks Commission. For that reason, the HDLC recommended that the smaller structure be demolished, but not the double at 7463-65 Benjamin.

Demolition requests denied for “modest” homes on Henry Clay Avenue, Laurel Street

A request to tear down a single-story home on Henry Clay Avenue and a proposed renovation of another house on Laurel Street that city officials said would essentially replace it as well have both been rejected by the Historic District Landmarks Commission, but two demolition requests in the Irish Channel and in Hollygrove were approved. The home at 301 Henry Clay dates back to the early part of the 20th Century and remains in relatively good condition, according to the HDLC staff report. The front porch has some damage from a vehicle strike, but the foundation is not damaged and could be repaired, the report concludes, recommending that the demolition request be denied. No one appeared before the HDLC to present the demolition request last Thursday (July 20), but a structural engineer’s letter on behalf of owner Brice Abadie said the cost to make the repairs would exceed the house’s value. Erin Holmes of the Preservation Resource Center disputed that view, and characterized the request as part of a trend of selling smaller homes in sought-after neighborhoods to buyers who intend to replace them with something much larger.