Request to demolish St. Charles Avenue mansion splits city committee

A plan to tear down a mansion on St. Charles Avenue designed by one of New Orleans’ most celebrated architects to make room for a new single-family home in its place must be decided by the City Council, after the committee that oversees demolition requests cast a split vote over the issue Monday. Homeowner Jeff Goldring and his supporters touted the agreements they had reached with two neighborhood associations, the St. Charles Avenue Association and Hurstville, as well as the national reputation of their Covington-based architect, Ken Tate. Opponents countered that the architecture of the existing building is already significant, and that the family should not be able to tear the home down simply because they want something different there.

Newman strives toward accord with neighbors concerned about expansion

The Isidore Newman School is working on additional restrictions to its expansion plans in order to address the concerns of its neighbors, the school attorney told members of the surrounding neighborhoods Tuesday night. The school is asking for land-use changes on three sides of its campus. An early-childhood center is planned across Loyola Avenue, a home on the corner of Jefferson and Danneel is being renovated for a headmaster’s house, and the old AutoPaint building at Danneel and Robert, currently used for storage, could one day become a classroom facility of some kind, said attorney Justin Schmidt. Neighbors worry about the impact that each of the changes could bring. The early childhood center, they say, will bring more traffic to the already-crowded neighborhood streets.

Water pressure to drop Saturday along Camp and Magazine around Jefferson

Repairs to a fire hydrant and valves on a water main will cause low water pressure from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the area along Camp and Magazine streets around Jefferson Avenue, according to the Sewerage and Water Board. Both Magazine and Camp will be affected from Arabella to Soniat, officials said. Two cross streets, Leontine and Joseph, will be affected from Coliseum to Constance. Additional blocks in the area may be affected as well.

Design for new Walgreens on Magazine moving in a more historical direction

Developers of a new Walgreens proposed for the old American Legion Hall on Magazine Street presented three renovation designs concepts to a crowd of Uptown residents Tuesday evening, saying that they are moving away from the more modern storefront design that initially bothered some neighbors. “What we showed before was a very modern design, and a lot of people didn’t like it,” said architect Mac Ball. As they examined the architecture along the street, they found glass storefronts and overhanging balconies to be common architectural features.The two newer designs for the property both have balconies, though the third design exchanges some of the glass windows for more brickwork in its columns and on its ends. “This is a direction,” developer Louis Stirling said of the three designs, each moving away from that initial modern concept. “My approach has always been that we have to build something we’ll all be proud of.

Little or no changes proposed for Uptown under City Council redistricting maps

Most of Uptown New Orleans appears likely to avoid a political tug-of-war over redrawing City Council boundaries, though one proposal would change the representation for a handful of neighborhoods along Jefferson Avenue. Of the five proposed redistricting plans unveiled this weekend, four show no changes to representation Uptown whatsoever, and one slides six voting precincts along Jefferson Avenue from Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s District A into Councilwoman Stacy Head’s District B.

For the last decade, all of Uptown has been divided between districts A and B along a line that runs the length of Jefferson Avenue from the river to Fontainebleau, then heads up Carrollton toward Mid-City. Guidry represents everything upriver of Jefferson into Lakeview (including the Audubon, Carrollton, Riverbend, and Leonidas neighborhoods); Head represents everyone downriver into the Central Business District (including Freret, Milan, Touro, the Garden Distirct and the Irish Channel); and both reach into parts of Mid-City. District A lost fewer people since 2000 than the rest of the city, so Guidry will have to give up some territory. District B’s population loss was about the same rate as the city as a whole, so it does not need any changes at all, and under some of the possible scenarios it simply is left touched.

Uptown neighborhoods seek meeting with Serpas over changes proposed to NOPD off-duty work

Leaders of three neighborhoods representing thousands of Uptown New Orleans homes worry that upcoming changes intended to reduce corruption in police overtime work will weaken the protection they receive from off-duty officers, and are requesting a meeting with NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas to discuss the reforms.

Many Uptown neighborhoods, either through volunteer collections or through special self-imposed taxing districts, hire either off-duty NOPD officers or private security companies to conduct additional patrols in their neighborhood. These officers are intended to deter criminals through increased presence, always be close enough to respond to calls quickly and also perform more direct security functions, such as watching to ensure residents make it from their cars to the front doors safely at night. The entire system of paid police details has come under close scrutiny of late. In announcing the results of their investigation into the NOPD, federal investigators famously decried the detail system as an “aorta of corruption” through the department, and ranking officers have recently been suspended for forming private companies to contact with the department for various tasks. In response, Chief Serpas has proposed significant reforms to the system, placing it all under the oversight of an independent office and removing individual officers’ autonomy to run the details.

Coyote eludes capture in Hurstville neighborhood

An officer with New Orleans Private Patrol chased a coyote through the stately streets surrounding Audubon Park last weekend, prompting a warning to area residents to watch their pets. Capt. James Baldassaro was called to a home on Garfield Street near State last Friday for a sighting of coyote on the loose. While he was writing the report, he said, the coyote emerged from a side yard and began loping down the street. He followed it until it reached Camp Street headed toward Jefferson reaching the outer boundaries of the neighborhoods patrolled by New Orleans Private Patrol. Baldassaro said he contacted the New Orleans Police Department and a private wildlife removal company, but has not heard since Friday whether the animal found or seen again.

Design questions dominate town hall with developers of possible Walgreens on Magazine

With developers insisting that Walgreens is the most likely tenant of an multi-million dollar proposed renovation of the old American Legion buildling on Magazine Street, many of the nearly 200 people at a Wednesday-night town hall on the project focused their questions on the planned design of its modern, glass-wall facade and large rear parking lot and drive-through. Many of the details of the nearly $6 million purchase and renovation had already been described by the leaders of three surrounding neighborhoods in a letter last month — with the exception of the new revelation that the store plans to sell beer and wine, in contrast to leaders’ previous expectation that no alcohol would be sold in the new Walgreens. Walgreens executives have yet to commit to the Magazine Street project (which would include closing their location on Tchoupitoulas), said developer Louis Stirling Properties, but appear to be the tenant most likely to be able to pay the building’s $600,000 lease. Stirling’s plan for the building includes removing its brick front completely and replacing it with a glass wall with steel columns — not unlike nearby Whole Foods — and many residents asked why such a modern design was chosen.

“We’re modern architects,” replied architect Mac Ball of New Orleans. “We’re designing buildings now, not in the 19th century.”

Neighborhood eyes possible problems with zoning for proposed Walgreens

Zoning on Magazine Street may not be as accommodating to a Walgreens pharmacy as was originally assumed, members of the adjacent neighborhood association said Tuesday evening as they began preliminary discussions of the proposed development. The old American Legion in the 5500 block of Magazine is zoned B-2, which allows for a variety of general retail uses, said Peggy Adams, an attorney on the board of the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association. Although B-2 does not specifically prohibit drug stores, pharmacies with drive-through lanes are specifically mentioned in a separate section of the city zoning code, C-1A. And in some cases, Adams said, the fact that one type of development is specifically mentioned in a certain zoning has been used to preclude it in other zonings. Adams’ concerns about the building’s zoning come at a very preliminary point in the Walgreens discussion, as the three neighborhood associations are planning a public meeting with the developer, Stirling Properties, tentatively set for March 16.