Complaints against ‘nightmare’ landlord keep piling up

New Orleans renter Jessica Spraggins had a hard time sleeping in her family’s three-bedroom, $2,600-a-month apartment after her bedroom ceiling partially collapsed. 

“When the city gets rain, so does our bedroom,” Spraggins said. 

The hole hadn’t always been there, she said, but rain leaking from the roof caused the collapse on May 31. Spraggins messaged her landlord, Laura Russell, that very day. Russell responded that she would send someone to look at the damage, according to screenshots of their text communications. Nobody ever came, Spraggins said. 

What did come was an eviction notice. Russell began eviction proceedings June 16 to remove the family from Apartment B at 7800 St.

Entrepreneur battles neighbors to open Daiquiri World restaurant

An old Church’s Chicken building on Louisiana Avenue has turned into a battleground for a neighborhood association and a fledgling entrepreneur who is renovating it into a full-service restaurant with alcohol sales. The Delachaise Neighborhood Association filed an appeal with the Board of Zoning Adjustments to stop work on the building two blocks from St. Charles Avenue. It alleges that the planned Daiquiri World will be a bar disguised as a restaurant and that the layout resembles a fast-food operation. The BZA staff recommended denying the appeal, stating that the plans show a standard restaurant. But the BZA board said those plans are incomplete and are not stamped by a licensed architect.

Affordable housing, child-care center proposed for blighted firehouse

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.

Zimpel Street cottage sets off battle between developers and neighbors

The City Council on Thursday (July 21) handed Carrollton area neighbors a victory by overturning the Historic District Landmarks Commission’s approval of plans to partially demolish a house near Tulane University. The approval would have allowed developers Preston Tedesco and Sidney “Sam” Torres V to add a second story to a 1,359-square-foot single-family home they purchased on Zimpel Street. The plans they filed with the city show two units with a “doubles-to-dorms” layout. On June 1, the HDLC voted 8-2 to allow the entire roof and 65% of the facade to be demolished so the second floor could be added. The HDLC staff found that the modest mid-century building, rated as “non-contributing,” had nothing to distinguish it.

Developers break ground on Grove Place affordable housing complex

Developers, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso, members of the Hollygrove Neighborhood Association and other officials broke ground Tuesday (July 20) on the Grove Place affordable housing development. City officials and the developer touted the planned Grove Place community as providing affordable rents for 32 households in an area with easy access to public transportation to multiple job centers. Grove Place is expected to be move-in ready by summer 2023. The land has approximately 360 foot of frontage on Earhart Boulevard and takes up the entire square block between Monroe and Leonidas streets, a total of 1.8 acres. The development includes 23 historic rehabilitated units and nine newly constructed units.

Controversial zoning request for Molly’s Rise and Shine is back on the city’s agenda

Breakfast and brunch luminary Molly’s Rise and Shine is getting a second chance at a zoning change that will give it the opportunity to add alcohol to its menu. The City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to direct the City Planning Commission to conduct a public hearing on changing the building’s zoning from residential to business and to permit a conditional use to allow a standard restaurant with alcoholic beverage services. Three years ago, the same request was shut down in the same chamber after gaining approval, with restrictions, from the Planning Commission. Now a new City Council will have a chance to consider it. At both 2019 hearings, the proposal faced opposition from the restaurant’s neighbors in the Irish Channel and Garden District.

Redevelopment of the famed Dew Drop Inn is officially underway

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.

Join us for our Senior Summer Tours, hosted by Chelsey Richard Napoleon, Clerk of Civil District Court (sponsored)

The Honorable Chelsey Richard Napoleon is excited to announce Senior Summer Tours this year! The Clerk’s Office consists of two divisions – Land Records and Civil. Our Civil Division is where civil cases — such as personal injury, accidents, successions and foreclosures — are filed. Domestic matters, such as divorce and child support, are also handled in the Civil Division. The Land Records Division is where documents regarding property are recorded.

Free HIV test center plans to open in former Garden District day spa

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, or AHF, has plans to open an HIV testing center, health care center, pharmacy and Out of the Closet thrift store on Magazine Street. 

The Los Angeles-based foundation has purchased the building on Magazine and Sixth streets, the former location of the Belladonna Day Spa. The health care center is tentatively set to open in August, an AHF spokesperson said. AHF is the world’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care, according to the foundation’s website, operating in 45 countries. In the U.S., its medical centers are in 17 states, including Louisiana, with a clinic in Baton Rouge. 

The foundation plans to the entire space of the 19th century building at 2900 Magazine St. The first floor will be used as a thrift store and likely a donation center; the second floor will be used for testing and a medical clinic.

City Planning Commission approves Italian restaurant on Magazine Street

The City Planning Commission approved Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts’ latest venture on Magazine Street. An Italian-themed restaurant and bar with balcony service could inhabit the former space of their short-lived Bayou Burger & Sports Co. concept on the corner of Magazine and Pleasant streets. A zoning request by the building’s owner, T.H.P of New Orleans, and the restaurant’s owner, Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission, minus one absent vote. The commissioners recommended permitting a standard restaurant in the HU-B1 neighborhood business district and the Magazine Street Use Restriction Overlay District.