Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association throws annual fall party Sunday

The Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association will hold its annual fall block party Sunday afternoon, with plenty of food and activities for adults and children alike. The association represents the area between Camp Street and the Mississippi River, from Jefferson Avenue to Audubon Park. For more details about the party, see the information from the flyer below:

Entergy representative fields questions from neighborhood

Entergy had all the reason in the world to bow out of a Tuesday-night presentation before the Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association scheduled before Hurricane Isaac, group leaders noted. So when a manager from the utility showed up and began taking questions, the small audience gave him a gentler reception than the Entergy CEO had received before the City Council earlier in the day. When Entergy first arranged to come speak to the group, it originally intended to give a routine presentation of energy-saving programs and community-outreach initiatives, association leaders said. But when Kerry Jones, a district community service manager for Entergy New Orleans, got up to speak, he said he’d begin by taking questions about the storm response. The neighborhood lost power for as long as anyone else — from late Tuesday or early Wednesday until Saturday or Sunday, for most — so their questions were the same as everyone else’s.

Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association to hear updates on Reginelli’s, cultural district

The Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association will hear updates on the project to move Reginelli’s Pizzeria across Magazine Street and on the proposed Uptown-University Cultural District that would create tax credits for historic renovations at a meeting at 6:45 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 7) at St. Paul’s church, 616 Eleonore Street). The full agenda is as follows (via the association website):

I. Call to Order and Board Member Introductions (6:45 – 6:50)

II. Approval of Minutes from July board meeting (6:50 – 6:55)

III.

Uptown university area slated for tax-free art sales, historic renovation tax credits

A major section of Uptown from Carrollton to Napoleon Avenue could soon become exempt from sales taxes on sales of original art, and most property owners in the area could become eligible for state tax credits for nearly any kind of renovations they do to their homes under a program on track for approval this summer. The proposed Uptown-University Cultural District would result in all areas between Carrollton and Napoleon avenues from the river to Interstate-10 being included in a “cultural products district,” a designation through the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism intended spur creative activity in specific locations. The designation has already been approved by the New Orleans City Council and is slated for state certification in mid-August, said Gaye Hamilton, cultural-economy manager for the department, in a presentation to the Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association during their monthly meeting Tuesday. The program uses two primary financial incentives to encourage cultural activity. First, any original artwork or jewelry sold in the district is exempt from sales taxes.

Grandmother graduating from Tulane, headed to Harvard Divinity School

Graduating from Tulane this weekend with a double major in religious studies and history, 47-year-old Jane Wolfe will begin studies this fall at Harvard Divinity School on a master’s degree in theological studies, according to the Tulane New Wave university news service. Wolfe and her husband, Uptown-based businessman and Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association member Scott Wolfe, will both move to Cambridge, Mass., but plan to return afterward, the article states.

Audubon-Riverside neighbors hold monthly meeting

The Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association will holds its monthly meeting at 6:45 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, May 1) at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 616 Eleonore Street. Discussion will include an update on Johnny V’s restaurant, the city’s outdoor film screening program and the status of upgrades to the association’s website.

Audubon Riverside neighbors consider park improvements

With a nest egg of unspent membership dues built up over the years, the Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association has begun discussing possible projects to improve nearby parks. This year’s board inherited an account balance of roughly $14,000 that accumulated in previous years and was never spent. The association’s annual expenses are not high, noted association president Sara Meadows Tolleson — primarily just paying for supplies at events such as the recent Easter egg hunt, the fall party and the National Night Out Against Crime — and mostly covered by people renewing their memberships each year. A recent audit committee suggested that ARNA spend part of the money on a neighborhood project, rather than keeping such a relatively large balance indefinitely. Over the last month, the association used a new online voting tool called VoteIt (developed by neighborhood resident Taylor Beery and funded with an $800,000 investment) to solicit and vote on ideas for the project.

Surprise early opening of Johnny V’s frustrates neighborhood association

Johnny V’s is now open on Magazine Street, but the discovery that the controversial restaurant was allowed to quietly begin operation without fulfilling all the conditions set forth by the city — including signing a good-neighbor agreement — frustrated the board of the Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association. “They’re being rewarded for being non-compliant,” said ARNA member Cele Gordon during Tuesday’s board meeting. After the city discovered a second-floor space at Johnny V’s last year that was not allowed by its original permit, renovations to the Magazine Street building were halted and the restaurant was instructed to apply for after-the-fact permission to move forward. In November, the restaurant’s request was granted by the City Council, but with an extensive list of conditions attached. Prior to opening, some of the un-permitted construction had to be undone, a signed lease was needed for use of the Perlis parking lot, and a good-neighbor agreement had to be signed with the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association.

City recommends keeping apartments on State and Tchoupitoulas, DePaul site on Calhoun as-is

Neighbors concerned about the future of two large Uptown properties near Audubon Park — an apartment complex on Tchoupitoulas and a mental health facility on Calhoun — received hopeful signs Tuesday night that the city is inclined to prevent major changes to either of them. In their formal recommendations to the City Planning Commission, the planning staff concludes that the DePaul mental health facility retain its current land-use, low-density residential — a decision that drew from its immediate neighbors. The apartment complex at State and Tchoupitoulas is recommended for a medium-density residential land-use to promote its redevelopment as another apartment complex, which would assuage neighbors’ fears of a commercial project there but still leaves questions about how much density would be permitted, they said at a Tuesday evening public hearing. DePaul campus

The 12-acre DePaul campus between Henry Clay Avenue and Audubon Park (also known as the Children’s Hospital Calhoun Campus) had originally been given an “institutional” future land use by the city staff, but City Councilwoman Susan Guidry asked the planning staff to review that decision. Neighbors of the site have been arguing for months that the site is residential in character, and that its official designation should not allow for a dramatic build out as a full-service hospital.

Neighbors to bring concerns about Tchoupitoulas apartments’ future before city

The effort to “Keep Tchoup Residential” (as the yard signs say) will get a public hearing next week, when one Uptown neighborhood group plans to ask for land-use rules that will prevent a large apartment complex from undergoing any sort of commercial transformation. The city’s Master Plan calls for a “residential low density” future land use for the property at State and Tchoupitoulas streets where an apartment complex now sits. Owner Ben Gravolet has submitted a request that the designation be changed to “mixed-use medium density,” which neighbors worry will open the door to any sort of redevelopment. The Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association has already drafted a letter asking that the residential land-use be maintained, though members were in favor of increasing the density so that the property could remain apartments. A public hearing on proposed changes to the master plan is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan.