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 city’s free walk-up testing for COVID-19 will be held in Broadmoor and the Lower Garden District this week. Anyone, with or without symptoms, is eligible to receive a test. No ID or health insurance is required. Testing at the Andrew Wilson Elementary School at 3617 Gen. Pershing St. in Broadmoor takes place Monday (June 29) and Tuesday (June 30) from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — or whenever tests run out.
A request to rezone a long-shuttered corner store on Josephine Street back into commercial use is raising questions among neighbors in the Lower Garden District, who say the lack of a specific tenant and the wide range of possible uses create the potential for trouble on a vulnerable residential block. Matt Hamdan of Metairie has owned the single-story brick building at 700 Josephine St. (at the intersection with Chippewa Street) since the early 1980s, he said at a recent meeting with neighbors. He building has been vacant since before Hurricane Katrina, when he closed the corner store there before, he said. During that time, it lost its commercial zoning, and the property is now classified for two-family residential.
Levelset, based in the Lower Garden District, is an example of the fast-growing tech industry in New Orleans. Since 2006, New Orleans has seen “more than 45 high-tech startup or subsidiaries,” which resulted in “the creation of more than 20,000 jobs,” according to U.S. News. Levelset provides a cloud-based payment and management platform for the construction industry, in an effort to cut through the slow pay cycles, burdensome paperwork and costly disputes in a what has been a relatively low-tech industry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics, two out of three construction businesses fail within five years — more than any other industry. “The only reason businesses fail is because they run out of cash,” said Scott Wolfe Jr., Levelset’s founder and CEO.
The wners of 1901-07 Sophie Wright Place met with neighbors in the Lower Garden District on Tuesday, Non. 16, about their plans to turn a second-floor unit into a short-term rental.
Ash Salem, Raouf Mousa and Ralph Mousa (as 1901 Sophie Wright LLC) purchased the property in April 2019. They also own apartment-rental units in Lakeview, Chalmette and Mid-City. Most people know the building as the location of the Munch Factory restaurant, located on the first floor, and its proximity to Half Moon Restaurant, Hi-Volt coffee shop and Il Mercato, an event rental space. There is a commercial permit for the property and the owners have already applied for STR permits for three second-floor units, two of which are already allowed by city ordinance, with the owners applying for a conditional use for one short-term rental in a HU-B1 zoning district (Historic Urban Neighborhood Business District).
The monthly board meeting of the Lower Garden District Association on Monday featured a presentation on plans for a new office and retail building at 1335 Magazine St. The three-story building will include features such as meditation areas, a library, co-working space and a two-level terrace — making it stand out as a modern office building. “When you enter this courtyard, the idea is for it to feel like a spa,” said Patrick Schindler, president of Felicity Property Co., the real estate firm behind the project. But while the presenters promised that the space would be Zen, some audience members at the meeting seemed to think of the building plan was just Zzzz. “It does look square and boxy,” one member of the audience commented during the question-and-answer period.
State Rep. Royce Duplessis, who represents House District 93, visited the Lower Garden District Association meeting on Monday for a question-and-answer session. District 93 includes parts of the Lower Garden District and Central City, where he lives. The election ended on Saturday for the voters, but it’s only just begun for legislators, who are now all vying for key committee positions. Duplessis said he’s working toward a spot on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. Duplessis took Helena Moreno’s legislative seat in May 2018 after emerging victorious from a special primary election to replace Morena, who had been elected to her City Council at-large position.
The owner of a Lower Garden District property, long used for offices, is seeking to rezone the building from residential to commercial. RCI Hospitality Holdings, a Houston-based publicly traded adult entertainment company, purchased 1428 Terpsichore St. in April. It is seeking to rezone its newly acquired property as commercial, claiming it was mistakenly categorized as residential during the city’s zone restructuring in 2015. During a Neighborhood Participation Project meeting on the change Thursday, Sept.
Eat NOLA Noir, hosts of Black Restaurant Week, and the New Orleans Multicultural Tourism Network will kick off “Dinner Club” showcasing “authentic creole cuisine” from around the city. The club series will visit a new restaurant each month, starting today (July 1) with The Munch Factory in the Lower Garden District. “Join us as we explore the culinary scene in New Orleans and try new dishes, meet new people, and get full,” Eat NOLA Noir wrote of the event series. The dinner will include a full serving of authentic Creole cuisine and unlimited buffet of menu items. The event takes place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at 1901 Sophie Wright Place. Dinner tickets and free club memberships are available at Eat NOLA Noir. Those interested can also sign up for information about upcoming Dinner Club meet-ups and food pop-ups.
The City Council last week approved the zoning change that will allow a wellness center in the former Norwegian Seamen’s Church, while promising to add some requirements for the business and property owners. The wellness center will be owned and operated by three sisters, Diana Fisher, Deborah Peters and Kendall Wininger, who are Lower Garden District residents. It will include offices for physicians and therapists, a health club with fitness classes in the former chapel and in the outdoor pool, and a carryout health-food restaurant. District B Councilman Jay Banks said the City Council is adding two provisos to the ordinance allowing the zoning change from residential to mixed-use, permitting a commercial venture. One will require the owners to submit a parking plan; the other will prohibit them from acquiring a permit to sell alcohol at the site.