Despite an ardent appeal by neighbors Tuesday for the survival of a classic St. Charles Avenue apartment house, a city panel denied the vacant Lorraine building the rezoning it needs to reopen, leaving it in a bureaucratic purgatory with no realistic prospect for any use at all. The 14-unit Lorraine Apartments were built around 1920, architect Rick Fifield told the City Planning Commission on Tuesday. For the last 50 years, the building has been zoned for two-family residential, and its continued use as an apartment building was grandfathered in. It was sold and closed for renovations in 2008, but when the renovations took longer than expected, the Lorraine lost its special exception and now needs to be rezoned for multi-family use in order to reopen.
Three Uptown projects — a request to sell alcohol at the CVS under construction on Claiborne, a new clay studio on the Freret commercial corridor, and an apartment building on St. Charles Avenue — are all slated for consideration today by the City Planning Commission. The city planning staff suggests the planning commission approve the CVS alcohol request and the clay studio, but deny the apartment project. Decisions made by the commission are then forwarded to the City Council for final approval.
Two long-awaited Uptown street-beautification projects are poised to begin this summer after issues with their contractor delayed them from an expected spring start, officials said Monday afternoon. The $500,000 streetscape upgrades on the Freret commercial corridor are set to begin in June, and $2 million worth of similar work on South Claiborne is expected to start in August, Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant told City Councilwoman Stacy Head during a meeting of the city’s Public Works Committee. The streetscape project on Freret is intended to be the city’s contribution to the revitalization of the corridor between Jefferson and Napoleon avenues, adding more signage at the entrances to the corridor, planting trees, upgrading streetlights, repairing broken curbs and making the sidewalks more accessible to wheelchairs. The project was announced last August as part of the mayor’s “100 projects” and residents had been told to expect an April start, but that month came and went without any construction or explanation. In Monday’s meeting, Grant blamed delays in the street projects around the city on a number of factors, design delays, contract holdups, traffic studies and “coordination with community.”
The City Council meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday includes a request by the operators of the Fuel N’ Mart at 4140 South Claiborne to continue selling alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption after an ownership change. This request, recommended for approval by the City Planning Commission, may lead to some spring cleaning around the property, according to an email from Councilwoman Stacy Head’s office to Claiborne area residents. We are in receipt of a moratorium appeal for the Gas Station located @ 4140 S. Claiborne (bounded by Willow, Milan, & General Taylor). This Gas Station (Fuel N’ Mart) currently sells alcohol (for consumption off premises), but the applicant is requesting to transfer the existing alcoholic beverage license to a new owner, which necessitates a Moratorium Appeal (under the parameters of the Moratorium – transfers are subject to the appeals process). Thus, this request is for the continuation of existing alcohol sales.
Sections of both east- and westbound Claiborne Avenue through Uptown New Orleans remain under construction this week, according to the state Department of Transportation and Development. The right lane of each direction will be closed for construction on a variety of sections between the U.S. 90 overpass and Jefferson Parish for the remainder of this week, according to the department’s website. The westbound construction is scheduled until Friday afternoon, while the eastbound road work will last well into next week.
A car plowed through two walls of a home near the intersection of Cadiz and Claiborne around 9:30 p.m. Thursday, sending the driver to the hospital but without injuring anyone else, witnesses said. Mike Zeininger, 30, said he was standing on his porch about three doors up from Claiborne Avenue when he heard the sound of a car peeling out. He looked toward Claiborne and saw the car begin over the sidewalk and head diagonally across the parking lot, picking up speed, and thought it was taking some sort of bizarre shortcut onto Cadiz, he said. Instead, the car continued across Cadiz and directly for his neighbor’s house, a small, one-bedroom home in the backyard of a larger two-story apartment house that fronts on Claiborne, Zeininger said. The car smashed through a wooden fence, narrowly missing a tenant’s red Ford Focus in the rear driveway, crashed through the front wall of the small house and burst through a side wall before coming to a stop.
A man was fatally shot on Louisiana Avenue Parkway early Sunday morning, police said. The man was found lying in the street with a gunshot wound to the chest about 3:20 a.m. in the 3000 block of Louisiana Avenue Parkway, the first block on the lake side of Claiborne Avenue, police said. Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene, according to a news release from the NOPD Second District. The Orleans Parish Coroner’s office identified the victim as 27-year-old Melvin Yovany Montes on Monday, according to The Times-Picayune. No suspects or motive in the shooting has been described.
An armed man’s standoff with police ended with his peaceful surrender Friday morning, authorities said. The man got into an argument with his neighbors early Friday morning, fired at least one shot and barricaded himself into an apartment on Washington Avenue near Claiborne with another woman, said Capt. Robert Bardy of the NOPD’s Sixth District. Shortly after 10:30 a.m., both surrendered and were arrested, Bardy said. SWAT team members had the white two-story for most of the morning, blocking the intersection of Claiborne and Washington in all directions. Check back here at UptownMessenger.com for more information as it becomes available.
Any major changes to the Interstate 10 overpass are at least four to six years away and dependent on major studies that the city cannot currently afford to pay for – despite the potential benefits that removing the structure could bring, officials said. The destruction of the I-10 expressway and the restoration of Claiborne Avenue as put forth by the Claiborne Corridor Improvement Coalition would revitalize an area that has suffered socially, economically, and physically from the introduction of the expressway, originally built in the 1960’s, proponents of the plan said at a town hall meeting Tuesday of about 50 people at St Peter Claver Catholic School. If the current vision is adopted, Claiborne Avenue would be restored to its earlier incarnation as a classic New Orleans tree-lined boulevard and a social and economic hub of the Treme neighborhood. With enough momentum, architect Clifton James argued, the positive impacts could stretch as far west as Louis Armstrong International Airport. “Each community through which I-10 passes has riches that aren’t being visited and appreciated because of it,” James said, citing examples of local cemeteries, architectural features, and museums. Other cities such as New York and San Francisco have successfully undertaken similar efforts to revitalize neighborhoods through dismantling freeways, he said, and with an estimated $50 million in maintenance costs due for I-10 in the next few years, it may prove more economically and socially viable to consider eliminating it altogether.
The possibility of removing the Interstate 10 overpass from Claiborne Avenue will be the subject of a town-hall meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at St. Peter Claver Catholic School Hall, 1020 N. Prieur St., led by City Council members Kristin Gisleson Palmer and Susan Guidry. The proposal to create a park known as the Lafitte Greenway from downtown to Mid-City will also be discussed.