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.

Developer hopes to demolish Dat’s Grocery property on Magazine Street

A developer has received tentative approval to tear down the Dat’s Grocery on Magazine Street, but city officials said that actual demolition work cannot begin until he has filed development plans with the Historic District Landmarks Commission. Developer Cornelius Payne told the commission last month that banks have been hesitant to finance his redevelopment plans for the Dat’s Grocery site at 1600 Magazine because of the city’s reputation for preventing older buildings from being torn down. But the building’s architecture does not represent an essential part of the character of the surrounding Lower Garden District, Payne said, so he asked the commission to help him show potential lenders that demolition of it will not be an obstacle. “I have this property with the hopes and plans of redeveloping it,” Payne said at the May 11 meeting of the HDLC. “The site is a non-historic building.

Former service station on Carrollton Avenue to be torn down, replaced with coffee shop or sports bar

A former South Carrollton Avenue service station with a long distinctive overhang was approved for demolition this week, and the new owners plan to replace it with either a sports bar or a drive-through coffee shop. The building at 3200 South Carrollton Avenue (at the corner of Oleander Street about a block off Earhart Boulevard) was owned by the Patterson family since the 1970s until it was sold to Evelyn Evans Freiberg for $200,000 in early March, according to documents included with the demolition application. “We hope to build a sports bar there, though we also have been approached by a local coffee chain about leasing the property,” John Freiberg told the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee on Monday afternoon. “We would like to rebuild it because it is an old service station. It’s fairly dilapidated.”

Demolition requests denied for two Tchoupitoulas buildings

Two buildings in the 3900 block of Tchoupitoulas Street were denied demolition requests before city officials last week. A company called Supreme Restoration applied for demolition permits for the structures at 3950 and 3958 Tchoupitoulas. The idea of tearing them down drew opposition from both the public and the committee at the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee on Monday, March 20, but no one spoke in favor of it. Tchoupitoulas is “one of the most diverse mixed-use corridors in the city,” with both industrial and residential uses, said Erin Holmes of the Preservation Resource Center. Both extremes of those uses should be preserved, she said.

Loyola student organizations aid in tornado relief

Several student organizations at Loyola University New Orleans have made efforts to aid in tornado relief and cleanup. While the school is not equipped with tools to send students out and immediately start rebuilding, they encourage students to find ways to help, according to a report by Dannielle Garcia of The Maroon. Loyola’s Mission and Ministry office is still accepting monetary donations, as well as bottled water, canned food, unused toiletry and personal hygiene items, baby diapers and formula, and cleaning supplies for tornado victims.

For the full story from The Maroon, click here.

Carrollton Courthouse set for auction in March

OPSB Surplus Auction-Carrollton Courthouse from Windfeel Properties on Vimeo. The former Carrollton Courthouse — built in 1855 by one of the city’s premier architects, used as a school on-and-off since 1889, and a top priority for preservation by local historians — is set for public auction in March, with an open house for potential buyers next week. The last school to use the building, Audubon Charter, departed in 2013 because of the building’s long deterioration, and what would become of the landmark has been a looming question ever since. State law requires that any surplus school building be offered to charter operators before any other option is explored, and officials from several schools toured the old courthouse in the summer of 2014, but none made an offer on the building that fall, saying that the cost of renovations was likely too high and the layout too difficult for modern classrooms.

Preservationists rallied around the building, and National Trust for Historic Preservation named it in 2015 to its annual list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.” Orleans Parish School officials promised to hold on to the building for a while longer to give preservationists time to seek out a public entity of some sort to exchange land with the school board and take over the building — the only option under state law that wouldn’t open it to bids from private developers — but warned that they could not justify paying the $100,000 in annual upkeep indefinitely. Late last year, prefiguring the nearing reality of the building’s sale, Orleans school officials sought a more flexible land-use category from the city of New Orleans for the property, arguing that it would make the building more appealing for potential buyers.