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.
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.
Concerned that Children’s Hospital might one day develop the tranquil DePaul mental-health campus next to Audubon Park into a full-fledged hospital complex, a group of neighbors made a concerted effort before the city Tuesday to halt those changes before they happen. Established in 1883, the six-block De Paul site has long kept a park-like character that residents said is appropriate for its use as a mental-health facility. “Right now it’s a fairly benign neighbor,” said Jay Seastrunk, an architect who lives across Henry Clay Avenue from the site. “Not a lot goes on to impact the neighborhood.” A proposed change to the city’s Future Land Use Maps in the Master Plan would designate the site for “institutional” uses, however — the same category used for other major hospitals.
Renovations began Monday that will convert the former American Legion hall on Magazine Street into a new Walgreens pharmacy, after the developer of the project finalized its purchase of the building late last month. Stirling Properties now plans to transform the building’s solid brick facade into a more traditional New Orleans storefront of glass and columns, but the work will take months, Stirling vice president Peter Aamodt told the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association at a meeting Tuesday night. The company hopes to finish construction in July and open the Walgreens later that month or in August, he said. Although Walgreens plans to move its Tchoupitoulas location to its new Magazine Street store, the company will have options on its lease for the old location for the next 15 years, Aamodt said. Whether Walgreens will attempt to find a new tenant for a sublease or return the property to the shopping center’s owner has yet to be determined, Aamodt said, but reassured the neighbors that it would not go unused.
A new restaurant on Magazine Street, a new nightclub on Freret Street and a new home in place of an old one were all given approval by the City Council on Thursday, though each project has drawn its share of objections in the past.
Three Uptown land-use projects that have each generated a fair amount of controversy — the proposed demolition of a historic home on St. Charles Avenue, permission for a restaurant to open in spite of unpermitted additions and a new nightclub on Freret Street — are all slated for New Orleans City Council hearing on Thursday, according to the agenda. The most pressing issue will be a decision on the proposed Johnny V’s restaurant next to Monkey Hill bar on Magazine Street, which City Council rules prohibit from being delayed any longer. At issue is whether to modify the property’s land-use restrictions to incorporate additions to the building that were added without permission during a recent renovation. The Audubon Riverside Neighborhood Association has been tentatively in favor of a good-neighbor agreement with the restaurant for several months, and met again about the issue Tuesday night.
Whether to support the opening of a Magazine Street restaurant that improperly added an upstairs space will be decided tonight (Tuesday, Nov. 1) by the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association as the deadline nears for a City Council decision on the issue. Johnny V’s received permission to open next to Monkey Hill bar on Magazine Street more than two years ago, but an upstairs space not envisioned in the original permits was added during construction. The restaurant could conceivably open under its current conditional use if it removed those additions, but its owners are asking for permission to move forward without tearing out the extra space in exchange for more concessions to the neighbors. The Audubon-Riverside association voted in September not to oppose the restaurant’s plans in exchange for a number of new conditions: that Johnny V’s owners sign a legally-binding good-neighbor agreement to seal off the additional upstairs space to prevent its use, and that the restaurant secure a lease with the Perlis family for use of their parking lot after hours, among others.
After nearly a year of discussions and negotiations with neighbors and the city, Whole Foods Arabella Station will now be able to stay open an hour later on Sundays and display plants for sale on its front patio, with the official approval Thursday of only the least controversial of its requested changes to its operating agreement with the city. Specifically, Whole Foods will now be able to stay open until 9 p.m. on Sundays — matching its closing time the rest of the week — with the condition that it finish all its exterior maintenance and cleanup by 10 p.m. nightly. The store can also display plants, flowers and pumpkins for sale along its Magazine Street side, but no more than four feet out from the front wall. The store had requested an increase in the number of 18-wheelers allowed to make deliveries per day from one to four, and an extension in the deadline for deliveries from its present cut off at 11 a.m. to a later time of 3 p.m. Those changes, the store has argued, would have the effect of decreasing the amount of deliveries from smaller trucks, as well as spreading their arrival through the day to reduce congestion. But Councilwoman Susan Guidry, whose district includes the Whole Foods store, said she found the extended loading times unnecessary, because the store already has to do most of its loading before its 9 a.m. opening to avoid shutting down parking spaces around the loading bays.
Neighborhoods around the city are preparing to celebrate the “National Night Out Against Crime” tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 11), and Uptown groups are all doing it their own way, with a movie night, a charity flea market, a health fair, multiple cookouts and live music. Here’s a list of events around Uptown:
Palmer Park (corner of South Carrollton and South Claiborne): Likely one of the largest events of the evening, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Music by Shocking Blond, food by Plum Street Snoballs, Crepes a la Cart and Fruit Sensations, prize wheel and fire engine exhibit. Hot dogs for $1 donation, and fundraising drive in support of NOPD and the fire department. Organized by the Carrollton Area Network (Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association, Carrollton United, Central Carrollton Association, Fontainebleau Improvement Association, Maple Area Residents Inc., StateStreetDrive.com, Northwest Carrollton Civic Association, Palmer Park Neighborhood Association).
Concerned that an apartment complex at the corner of State and Tchoupitoulas may be headed for unwelcome commercial redevelopment, the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association delved into the arcana of the city’s land-use planning process Tuesday night to cast votes in favor of keeping the property residential. The apartments, bought last December by investor Ben Gravolet, currently sit on land zoned for medical services. The city’s recently-adopted master plan envisions the land for low-density residential use, however, and Gravolet has requested that the property’s land-use be changed to “Mixed Use,” which allows any number of commercial uses. Roger Gorman, director of development at Children’s Hospital, said he had been approached by Gravolet to buy or lease the property, and that when the hospital declined, Gravolet replied that he was negotiating with CVS pharmacy over the site. A resident near State and Tchoupitoulas himself, Gorman said that he would be opposed to that sort of development on his corner — as did several other nearby residents who attended the meeting as well.