Oretha Castle Haley sees new growth with La Vie En Rose Cafe

La Vie En Rose Café, a colorful coffee and pastry shop, has moved into a space at 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. and will officially open the doors of their new location on June 22. The building is also home to art studio Big Sexy Neon, and formerly housed the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, before their move to St Claude Ave. in Arabi. The café’s space, located in the front of the building, was the previous location of Church Alley Coffee and Orleans Coffee House.

City Council approves revival plans for the historic Dew Drop Inn

Plans to revive the historic Dew Drop Inn music venue and hotel in Central City moved another step forward last week with the City Council’s unanimous approval. “Putting this back into commerce is a wonderful, wonderful thing,” said District B Councilman Jay Banks before the conditional use application went up for a vote. “It adds to the musical legacy of the wonderfully musical city that we have. I am extremely excited about this.” The council attached 11 provisos to the approval to make sure the developer will provide a passenger drop-off zone, noise abatement, a landscape plan and other city requirements, but no off-street parking is required of the development.

Endangered places: 1860s cottage in the heart of Central City

The real estate market in Central City is hot right now. At the high end, a house on South Rampart Street recently sold for $600,000 and two others, on Josephine Street and South Liberty Street, have sold in the $400,000 range. At the other end of the price and move-in ready spectrum, a house on South Robertson Street, which looks like it is only a façade covered in cat’s claw at this point, sold for $30,000. These homes and prices also reflect the evolving housing stock of the neighborhood. A quick drive around reveals modest family homes next to abandoned houses in a state of an advanced decay next to gleaming renovations.

Central City thrift store and sewing school provide remedies for the ‘high cost of cheap fashion’

Listening to the radio while driving nine years ago, Alison Parker heard a segment about the book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth Cline, and it opened her eyes to the problem of waste and pollution in the fashion and clothing business. 

“I knew I could no longer sit on the sidelines and do nothing,” Parker said. Eventually, it lead her to found ricRACK, a nonprofit organization its website describes as “combining creative skill building with environmental responsibility.” 

Everything that ricRACK does, Parker said, in some way combats the waste prevalent in the fashion industry, which is estimated be the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply and pollutes the oceans with micro plastics. What’s more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. And when this happens, the dyes and chemicals from the fabrics leach into the ground water and release greenhouse gasses. 

To promote the productive recycling of clothes, ricRACK has opened a thrift store in Central City that sells donated clothes as well as those that have been used in films and TV shows, and sponsors a variety of sewing classes. Parker herself worked in the costume department for Cirque du Soleil for five years and then as a costume designer for theater and films, so she has those connections.

New neon studio lights up Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

The space at 1618 Oretha Castle Haley surely never looked like this before. The Big Sexy Neon studio is filled floor-to-ceiling with fantastic new neon works and vintage signs waiting to be restored. There are fleurs-de-lis, there are corkscrews, there are quirky signs, there are gorgeous works of art — all on dazzling display. Nearly a year ago to the day, Nate Sheaffer signed a lease on the space that formerly housed the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Art Center, which is now on St. Claude Avenue in Arabi.

Yardi Gras Stories: House floats bring neighbors together in Central City

Mardi Gras parades may be cancelled, but that hasn’t stopped residents of Central City from turning their neighborhood into a festive Wonderland. Central City is one of the many neighborhoods participating in Yardi Gras, an alternative to Mardi Gras parades where homeowners decorate their own houses as floats. On the 3200 block of Dryades, for example, residents are working together to turn four homes into “Alice in Wonderland”-themed house floats. 

Friends and neighbors came together on Saturday to start putting up whimsical decorations. One house was the Cheshire Cat, and the others were the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar and the Mad Hatter. The neighbors shared pizza and art supplies as they decorated, and music kept everyone bouncing. 

“We have all embraced it, and we have had a lovely time,” said Shirley Madison, the Queen of Hearts.

City plans safer bike paths in Central City and Lower Garden District

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.

Leidenheimer at odds with Central City neighbors over proposed bakery expansion

By Emily Carmichael, Uptown Messenger

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 touts affordable housing amendment, pushes homeownership at District B meeting

By Jesse Baum, Uptown Messenger

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.