LaToya Cantrell’s website confirms candidacy for mayor, opening District B field

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell has formally embarked upon her campaign for mayor of New Orleans, her website now confirms, which will leave her District B seat open. Cantrell’s website (latoyacantrell.com) now solicits donations for “LaToya’s campaign for Mayor of New Orleans,” as it highlights her leadership in Broadmoor’s recovery, her career on the City Council, and the disparities she sees between post-Katrina growth and the neighborhoods it hasn’t reached. Meanwhile, Cantrell has also begun accepting $5,000 donations for the seat — whereas she would have been limited to $2,500 donations for a council seat, according to our partners at The New Orleans Advocate, who first uncovered the changes to Cantrell’s website late Friday morning. At least three names are already in the ring for Cantrell’s District B seat. Two prospective candidates — former Zulu king Jay Banks and former Orleans Parish School Board member Seth Bloom — had said they would consider running if Cantrell vacates the seat, and urban planner Eric Johnson had said he would run regardless.

Green Tea restaurant reopens in new building on South Claiborne

Two years ago, Yung Lau could scarcely believe that his Green Tea restaurant at the edge of the Garden District was about to be displaced by a national pharmacy chain in a city as in love with mom-and-pop eateries as New Orleans. The CVS did indeed move in, but on Friday, Lau will reopen Green Tea in a brand-new building that is being hailed as another landmark in the continuing redevelopment of another major Uptown corridor, South Claiborne Avenue. Lau has spent his entire life working in restaurants, the family business, starting with his first job when he was 13 years old in the 1990s working in his father’s restaurant in tiny Hamilton, Ala., where there was no other Chinese restaurant within a two-hour drive. They later moved to North Carolina, and then again to Farmington, Conn., where the family wound up staying. “Everywhere my dad went, he had a restaurant,” Lau recalled with a laugh.

LaToya Cantrell tells supporters: “I am considering running for mayor”

City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell — long considered one of the most likely top contenders as a candidate for New Orleans’ next mayor — announced to supporters last week that she is indeed considering a run for the position. Cantrell became heavily involved in post-Katrina politics in New Orleans through her leadership of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, and was elected to the open District B City Council seat vacated by Stacy Head’s election to an at-large position in a hard-fought four-way race in 2012. In 2013, Cantrell was re-elected to a full term in the seat without opposition — the only member of the City Council who did not draw a challenger that cycle. Speculation about a potential mayoral run has long surrounded Cantrell, notably when Politico Magazine profiled her in April 2015 with the headline, “LaToya Cantrell, Madame Mayor?” As the potential field for next fall’s election begins to materialize, however, Cantrell emailed her supporters last week to confirm that she is “considering” running for mayor.

Proposed low-barrier homeless shelter drawing opposition from schools, parents

By Claire Byun

A proposed low-barrier homeless shelter marketed as key to reducing the city’s homeless population is already drawing fire from school and community groups. The new shelter, proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration, is planned for 3101 Erato Street in the B.W. Cooper neighborhood. That location is just a few blocks away from two schools: Sylvanie Wlliams College Prep and now-defunct Booker T. Washington High School, which is slated to be rebuilt.

About 100 people gathered in Sylvanie Williams’ cafeteria Monday afternoon to hear more details on the proposed shelter. City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell discussed the city’s need for both a low barrier shelter and crisis management shelter, but was abruptly interrupted by a woman who stormed out of the school. Other critics voiced their concerns about the safety of maintaining a shelter within two blocks of two schools, especially given the age of the students.

More focus on crime, blight, litter will attract more businesses to South Claiborne, officials say

Development on South Claiborne Avenue has made significant strides in recent years, but more attention is needed to quality-of-life issues of crime, blight, panhandling and litter in order to attract more retail investment to the corridor, City Council members said. On Thursday, City Councilwoman Stacy Head convened what she described as an annual summit before the council’s Governmental Affairs Committee about South Claiborne Avenue, which she hails as “New Orleans’ next high-quality retail corridor.” The discussion featured the heads of numerous city agencies, who each reviewed their departments’ commitment to improving and maintaining the busy stretch. Brenda Canada, vice president for retail attraction at the New Orleans Business Alliance, said she and others had just returned from the International Council of Shopping Centers convention, where businesses are expressing increased interest in moving to New Orleans. As recently as 2011, national retailers were still asking whether the city would be rebuilt, Canada said.

Temporary site for ‘low barrier’ homeless shelter could open by October, councilwoman says

A temporary site for a centrally located “low barrier” shelter for the homeless in New Orleans that would provide protection from the elements and access to public services could be open as soon as October, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said this week. The concept is based on a similar model in San Antonio, and both the city of New Orleans and the Downtown Development District have pledged $1 million each — for a total of $2 million — toward its creation, Cantrell told the Faubourg Avart Neighborhood Association in their spring meeting Wednesday evening. City officials are negotiating with a property owner for a temporary location for the shelter, but Cantrell said she could not disclose it until those conversations are complete, though it could be operational by October. The low-barrier shelter would provide homeless people with a place to sleep outdoors with protection from the weather, Cantrell said. Representatives of city housing and health services would be available for those homeless people who want them, but they would not be forced on people who for their own reasons are not ready, Cantrell said.

Owner of collapsed apartments on Amelia plans affordable housing there, councilwoman says

The church pastor who owned an apartment building that dramatically collapsed on Amelia Street is seeking federal money to rebuild more affordable housing on the site, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell told neighbors on Tuesday evening. After years of complaints from neighbors about its blighted condition and allegations of illegal activity by squatters in the former apartments at 1900 Amelia, the building suddenly collapsed in April 2015. The fate of the site remained uncertain, but the Rev. Charles Southall III of the First Emanuel Baptist Church in Central City has filed an application with the Louisiana Housing Corp. for money to rebuild affordable housing on the site, Cantrell said at a joint meeting Tuesday night of the Delachaise Neighborhood Association and Milan Focus Group at their new location, Martin Wine Cellar. Technically, the long period of disuse has cost the site its multi-family zoning, Cantrell said, and it has reverted to the same two-family residential classification of the surrounding neighborhood.

New concessions building approved for Cuccia-Byrnes baseball fields used by Carrollton Boosters

The city of New Orleans approved plans Monday morning for a new concessions building to replace the aging structure at the Cuccia-Byrnes playground, where the Carrollton Boosters operate baseball fields they recently described as vital to their programming. The new two-story building on Forshey Street — just off South Carrollton Avenue — will include a concessions area, restrooms and upstairs storage space, according to plans filed with the city. The project will include, according to the plans:

Removal of the existing structure,
Construction of the new building,
Demolition of interior fencing “to open the green space up as a large multi-use playing field to be configured for different types of sporting events,” and
Replacement of some of the high mast lighting. The city had presented the plan to neighbors at a Jan. 14 meeting at the Hollygrove Multipurpose Center, according to records included in the project application.

Neighbors vent about Carrollton Boosters soccer complex before City Council, to little avail

More than three hours of impassioned arguments by neighbors Wednesday against the Carrollton Boosters’ proposed new soccer complex on The Fly garnered little more from the New Orleans City Council than a promise to provide better advance notice in the future and a scolding for the tenor of some of the complaints about it. Last year, the Audubon Commission signed an agreement allowing the Carrollton Boosters to build a new complex with an Astroturf field for soccer and other sports adjacent to its baseball facility on the Riverview area known as The Fly. The plan attracted little attention until January of this year, when the Carrollton Boosters sought to tear down an old cinderblock bathroom building in the site’s footprint — leading to the formation of a Save The Fly activist group, a formal expression of concern from the Carrollton Riverbend Neighborhood Association, and a picnic rally Sunday at the public-art structure that will also be removed to make way for the complex. On Wednesday, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell summoned the Audubon Commission and Carrollton Boosters leadership to appear before her Community Development Committee to explain the project. She began with stern words of displeasure about the lack of information shared by either entity about their plans — even with the City Council.