The Office of Neighborhood Engagement hosted a pre-construction meeting Thursday to inform Central City and Lower Garden District residents about bicycle infrastructure improvements coming to their neighborhoods. Construction on the project on the East Bank began in August 2020, and the Thursday meeting allowed residents to view the proposals for their area. The project will bring bike lanes and street redesigns to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from St. Charles Avenue to South Broad Street, Melpomene Street from St. Charles Avenue to Camp Street, Baronne Street from Calliope to Phillips Street, South Galvez Street from MLK to Erato Street, and South Broad Street from Fourth Street to Thalia Street.
The former St. Francis de Sales Church is featured in the Preservation Resource Center’s Preservation Fest 2020, a full day of free online programs.
Built circa 1867, just two years after the Civil War, the stately St. Francis de Sales Church served as a Catholic church parish until 2008, when it was sold by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and deconsecrated. The wooden church building remained vacant for nine years and fell into disrepair before developer Peter Gardner purchased it in 2017 and commenced an extensive restoration. Today from 12:30 to 1 p.m., take a virtual tour of the property here on the PRC Facebook page. For a Preservation Fest schedule, see here.
Iconic baguette producer Leidenheimer Baking Co. wants to expand its factory, but some of its Central City neighbors are pushing back. Leidenheimer, one of the city’s premier providers of po-boy loaves, wants to add 23,436 square feet to its factory at Martin Luther King Boulevard and Simon Bolivar Avenue, doubling its size. The renovations are designed to modernize its space and increase its production capacity. Public feedback in response to these plans has revealed neighborhood complaints of disruptive after-hours deliveries, noise pollution, air pollution, litter, emission of black soot that stains neighboring buildings, and traffic and parking difficulties.
Mayor Latoya Cantrell told a meeting on affordable housing Wednesday that she wants to push New Orleans to 65 percent homeownership, well above the current percentage of around 46 percent. Cantrell made an Uptown stop on her affordable housing tour at the Ashe Powerhouse Theater. The affordable housing tour has been a way for the Cantrell administration to go into different communities around the city and explain different affordability programs that are already in place. Residents in the area surrounding the Ashe Powerhouse Theater are predominantly renters, and Cantrell said she wants more homeownership to allow residents to build equity and pass that value to their children. This is especially important in New Orleans, Cantrell said, where burgeoning rent prices have pushed long-time residents out of their neighborhoods, and black renters are disproportionately likely to be cost-burdened — paying over 30 percent of their household income to housing costs.
Library services within the Mahalia Jackson Learning Center end today, Sept. 26, in preparation for a move to the a new larger location in the Allie Mae Williams Multi Service Center at 2020 Jackson Ave. Until the new location opens this fall, there will be three-day-a-week library service outside of the new location beginning Monday, Oct. 7. The pop-up library will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pop-up library services will include books and other materials for checkout, children’s crafts and toys, weekly storytimes every Saturday at 10:30 a.m., and free WiFi access.
Happy Raptor Distilling plans to start producing its signature line of craft spirits, 504Rum, this fall in Central City. Once the site of a graffiti-covered storage facility, the distillery’s location at 1512 Robert C. Blakes Sr. Drive (a two-block stretch of Carondelet Street) is nestled in a high-traffic but often overlooked area. The micro-distillery will feature a 2,000-square-foot production space and tasting room with an adjacent back patio. The revitalized space will feature a custom-built copper still and a mural by local artist Hill Landry. The Happy Raptor team plans to begin production later this month and will open for private events shortly thereafter.
Central City Library is moving to a new, larger location this fall: the Allie Mae Williams Multi-Service Center at 2020 Jackson Ave., the New Orleans Public Library announced. Library services within the Mahalia Jackson Learning Center will end Thursday, Sept. 26. From Sept. 26 until the new location opens, there will be three-day-a-week library service outside of the new location.
When Dryades Public Market closed its doors on Friday, Central City lost its major supplier of fresh produce. An anchor of the Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard shopping district, Dryades Public Market opened in 2016 as a way to bring fresh, affordable food to a low-income neighborhood with few grocery options. “This is my primary grocery store,” said Trenell Thomas, Dryades Public Market assistant manager. She’s not concerned for herself, however. Thomas owns a car and can drive to another store.
Ashé Cultural Arts Center’s board of directors, Efforts of Grace, has appointed Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes as the new executive director of Ashé. She will take her post Jan. 1, 2020, succeeding founding executive director Carol Bebelle, who will retire from the organization at the end of December. Ecclesiastes was selected after a rigorous search, said board President Beverly Guillory Andry. “Ms. Ecclesiastes comes to the organization with vast experience and knowledge in the field of culture and arts, as well as an understanding of its transformational power in the community,” Andry said. Efforts of Grace is the sponsor of Ashé Cultural Arts Center, a leading community-based cultural arts organization.
Local and national real estate developers are excited by this week’s announcement that the former Brown’s Dairy complex — just uptown of the Pontchartrain Expressway and one block off St. Charles Avenue — is now for sale. According to listing agent Matthew Eaton of Re/Max, this 200,000-square-foot parcel presents the largest infill development opportunity to hit the New Orleans market in recent years. With a hefty price tag of $8.5 million (approximately $42.50 per square foot based on land area), potential developers will be crunching the numbers to see what types of adaptive reuse could turn a profit. Regardless of whether the complex is redeveloped as retail shops, restaurants, art galleries, micro-breweries, recording studios, sports or entertainment complexes, apartments, condos, hotels, short-term rentals or some combination of the above – the sale will permanently change land uses and property values for many surrounding blocks.