Tipitina’s expansion moves forward with City Council approval

It’s been a tough slog for the city’s live-music industry since the pandemic hit, but one classic Uptown venue is looking to the future with plans to expand. Tipitina’s music club received approval from the City Council on Thursday to open a new club next door. The new venue will be a café and restaurant by day and a bar with live music at night. “With Covid and all that has been shut down, this is an exciting thing to watch, that Tipitina’s is actually expanding,” said District B Councilman Jay H. Banks. “Anything we can do to let our culture bearers, the backbone of our economy, to have more opportunities to work, is a good thing.”

City Council approves University Area Off-Street Parking Overlay

The City Council passed a motion Thursday establishing the University Area Off-Street Parking Overlay, making permanent the Interim Zoning District aimed at curbing the spread of investor-owned “doubles-to-dorms.”

Since the restrictions were temporarily established in March 2020, the overlay has expanded geographically while becoming more limited in scope and application. The overlay still requires one off-street parking space for each newly created bedroom in the area, but now it applies only to new homes or renovations with more than four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms per unit. It also features carve-outs for homes with a homestead exemption and for affordable housing projects. In addition, it only applies to residential districts. And to reduce stormwater runoff, each new parking space must be permeable.

Film studio gets a thumbs up from City Planning Commission for new building in Lower Garden District

New Orleans’ expansion as a center for TV and film production moved a step forward Tuesday as Second Line Stages got City Planning Commission approval to build a new office building in the Lower Garden District. The Planning Commission voted in favor of changing the zoning of a lot at 836 Market St. to allow construction of the two-story commercial building, although its own staff recommended denying the studio’s request. Lower Garden District neighbors have also objected to the request, saying the studio’s activities have been intrusive. 

The TV and film studio’s three stages have served as a backdrop for numerous productions, including American Horror Story: Coven, Treme, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and Lee Daniels’ The Butler. 

The new office building, located behind the studio, will be about 32,000 square feet with a landscaped parking area. About 30 to 45 people will be able to work there. 

The property is zoned for residential use.

Demolitions create a tear in the fabric of a neighborhood, Faubourg Delachaise residents say

Three rundown ranch-style buildings that the Historic District Landmarks Commission recently approved for demolition were classified by HDLC staff as “non-contributing,” a label given to buildings found to be “not historically or architecturally significant.”

To the Faubourg Delachaise neighbors who addressed the commission on Aug. 4, however, the one-story four-plexes at 900 Aline St., 901 Foucher St. and 909 Foucher contributed to the neighborhood in ways that may not be evident to a casual observer or HDLC commissioner. “I live right across the street from this property,” said Laurel Street resident Debby Pigman. “And although I will not be very distressed to see the buildings disappear, I am very distressed that a lot of my friends in the area were forced to move.”

The loss, she said, is not just personal — it’s a loss to the entire neighborhood.

St. Charles Avenue apartment developers to add more trees and green space

The corner of St. Charles and Louisiana is getting a little greener. 

On Wednesday (Aug. 17), the Historic District Landmark Commission’s Architectural Review Committee approved updated designs for the planned 115-unit residential and retail development at 3401 St. Charles. The new designs take into consideration the committee’s previous recommendation to add green space by incorporating more trees and two public courtyards along Louisiana Avenue. 

“We’re seeing this now as a great opportunity to not only increase the quantity and quality of public space, but to improve on the previous design,” said Ken Gowland of MetroStudio Architects in his presentation to the committee. 

This was the fourth meeting about 3401 St.

Tipitina’s to open coffee shop and bar with live music next door on Tchoupitoulas

Legendary local music venue Tipitina’s plans to expand by opening up a coffee shop next door that will also serve as a bar and live entertainment venue at night. 

The City Planning Commission approved the plans in a unanimous vote on Tuesday (July 27), with the provision that all music must be indoors with windows and doors closed. The coffee shop will be on 4331 Tchoupitoulas St., in a building previously used as a commercial short-term rental space known as Tchoup House. The venue has a rear patio and upstairs deck. 

In comparison to the bopping music club next door, the new entertainment venue will be low-key, focusing more on piano and acoustic performances. 

“The live music that we are envisioning would be akin to a piano bar: small scale, a piano man, or perhaps a jazz or funk trio,” according to a project description the club submitted. “An intimate vibe, nowhere on the level of size or production that the artists who play inside Tipitina’s require.” This expansion represents a hopeful new chapter for Tipitina’s, which like all music venues has struggled mightily to survive the pandemic.

Group working to add B.W. Cooper buildings to Broad Street Cultural District

Broad Community Connections is proposing to include the B.W. Cooper public housing site in the South Broad Street Cultural District. 

Three original buildings are left of the original Calliope Projects, renamed for B.W. Cooper in 1981. After Hurricane Katrina, the development was shuttered. Most of it was demolished and replaced with Marrero Commons, a mixed-income townhouse-style development. Broad Community Connections, a nonprofit that works with small businesses to redevelop the Broad Street corridor, said about two-thirds of the Marrero Commons complex sits within the proposed expansion area. The proposal would expand the South Broad Street Cultural District to include the land bordered by Earhart Boulevard, South Dorgenois Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South Galvez Street. 

The Cultural Districts Program was created by the Louisiana legislature in 2007 to revitalize and preserve cultural hubs within the state.

Viewpoint: If not the Municipal Auditorium, what could become the next City Hall?

While Mayor LaToya Cantrell told members of the Save Our Soul (SOS) coalition Tuesday that she was “good” with the Municipal Auditorium not becoming the next City Hall, the historic structure remains her first choice probably because of the $38 million allocation from FEMA that comes with it. 

Cantrell has given SOS a 90-day deadline to come up with a solid, fully funded plan to renovate, operate and maintain the auditorium. In the event that SOS successfully meets that goal, city officials might want to start looking at other suitable ›locations across New Orleans. If the prevailing sentiment is to stay in the downtown area, the Plaza Tower could be ripe for the picking. The 485,000-square-foot building features 45 floors, 13 elevators and its own parking garage. There’s even a separate parking lot for sale directly behind the building.