The efforts of Jonah Bascle, an Uptown resident who ran for mayor last year to draw attention to the lack of accessibility on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, form the basis of this week’s cover story in Gambit. Other than promises of committees to study the issue, little progress has been made on Bascle’s suggestion that the newer handicapped-accessible red streetcars be added to the St. Charles Avenue line.
The address of the former Borders store in the old Bultman funeral home on St. Charles Avenue has been added to the website of Fresh Market as “Coming Soon,” and our partners at WWL-TV have confirmed that the upscale grocer will be the site’s next tenant. The store’s promised amenities include an “old-style butcher shop,” fresh seafood, produce, fresh baked goods, a “European delicatessen,” imported cheese, gourmet coffee and other offerings.
A large oak fell across the downtown lane and neutral ground of St. Charles Avenue near Joseph Street on Monday morning, and witnesses said it narrowly missed falling on a passing streetcar. A little after 11 a.m., Lise Anne Werlein was watching through her home’s front window as movers prepared to bring in furniture, when she noticed the roof of a passing downtown-bound streetcar strike a low-hanging branch of the tree. The streetcar driver seemed to startled but continued on, said Cornell Johnson and Samuel Williams of Unlimited Moving Services, who were both watching from the street. Moments later — less than a minute, by Johnson’s estimate — the tree suddenly came crashing down, the witnesses said.
A couple who want to demolish their historic Henry Clay Avenue home and replace it with a new house found an unsympathetic audience at City Hall on Tuesday, and their plans will now carry an unfavorable recommendation when they appear before the New Orleans City Council. Architect Tracy Lea, who owns the house with his wife, told the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee that despite their improvements to the house over the years, its maintenance has become problematic, and that they would prefer to replace it with a house of their own design. They searched for a lot elsewhere in the city, but could not find one preferable to their current property on the edge of Audubon Park. “We like the piece of property that we own now, and would like to continue to live there,” Lea said. He added, “Architecturally, it’s not a good example of any particular style.
Two teens were arrested Monday night after a carjacking on Cherokee Street near St. Charles Avenue, police said. A woman was sitting in her vehicle in the 600 block of Cherokee about 9:30 p.m. Monday when she was approached by a pair of teenagers, one of whom pulled out a gun and demanded the vehicle, according to the NOPD Second District. The woman got out, and the pair got into the car and took off, police said. The vehicle was noticed shortly afterward by officers in the First District (which covers the area from Treme to Mid-City), and the two teens inside were identified by the victim as her attackers, police said.
A large historic home on Henry Clay Avenue and a mansion on St. Charles Avenue are being considered for demolition, according to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee. The owners of 417 Henry Clay Avenue say their renovated historic home has become too difficult to maintain, but they want to remain in the same location, according to a letter to neighbors included in their application to the NCDC and published by the Preservation Resource Center. Their proposed solution is to demolish the renovated house and replace it with a new house of contemporary design that will be easier to maintain, the letter states. The mansion at 5428 St.
With the expectation of 10 to 20 inches of water from Tropical Depression 13 this weekend, city officials have released a list of streets where flooding is most common. “Residents are advised to stay at home during the forecasted storm unless an emergency makes it absolutely necessary for them to get on the road,” the news release reads. The city also encourages residents to clear out the storm drains around their homes. “Please check the storm drains on your street and clear any leaves or trash that may be blocking them,” the city wrote. “Unclogged drains can help prevent street flooding, vehicles from stalling and flood waters from seeping inside of parked cars.”
I call it “bureaucratic indifference.” It’s when a rule is applied rigidly for the sake of rigid application, normally because some government employee or official is too lazy or obtuse to exercise intelligent and appropriate discretion. This is the mindset that drove the New Orleans City Planning Commission to refuse to rezone the Lorraine Apartments as multi-family residential. All of us have probably experienced bureaucratic indifference at some time or another. Youngsters seem to be getting the brunt of it lately with “zero tolerance” rules in public schools, under which students have been expelled for bringing needed medication to school or inadvertently leaving a hunting rifle in their trunk (whether the student put it there or not). The idea is that that drugs and guns are so bad that discretionary enforcement, even in the most extreme cases, should not be exercised. There is even less logic behind the Planning Commission’s decision regarding the Lorraine. The Lorraine building was constructed in 1920 as a 14-unit apartment building, before the city enacted a zoning code. For the past 50 years, the Lorraine has been located in a “two-family residential” zoning district, but was grandfathered in under the zoning code and has thus continued to operate. The only reason the Lorraine cannot open now is because its non-conforming use lapsed due to construction delays.
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.