Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans has leased the St. Francis of Assisi school building at State and Patton in Uptown New Orleans as its new location, according to an announcement made early Monday. The French-immersion charter school opened this year with two sections each of 3-year-old pre-kindergarten, 4-year-old pre-kindergarten and 5-year-old kindergarten — with three of those classrooms at Audubon Zoo and three at First Presbyterian Church on South Claiborne. The school plans to add two new sections of kindergarten (with the possibility of more, based on demand) and two sections of first grade next year, and officials predicted last week that the building would accommodate the school’s year-by-year growth for at least five years. The one-year lease for the space at the zoo is likely to end next year, officials have said, but have not yet described how the remaining classes and office space will be spread between the two church buildings.
Concerned that an apartment complex at the corner of State and Tchoupitoulas may be headed for unwelcome commercial redevelopment, the Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association delved into the arcana of the city’s land-use planning process Tuesday night to cast votes in favor of keeping the property residential. The apartments, bought last December by investor Ben Gravolet, currently sit on land zoned for medical services. The city’s recently-adopted master plan envisions the land for low-density residential use, however, and Gravolet has requested that the property’s land-use be changed to “Mixed Use,” which allows any number of commercial uses. Roger Gorman, director of development at Children’s Hospital, said he had been approached by Gravolet to buy or lease the property, and that when the hospital declined, Gravolet replied that he was negotiating with CVS pharmacy over the site. A resident near State and Tchoupitoulas himself, Gorman said that he would be opposed to that sort of development on his corner — as did several other nearby residents who attended the meeting as well.
The new owner of an apartment complex at Tchoupitoulas and State streets is renovating the large collection of units there in hopes attracting college students and tenants with ties to nearby Children’s Hospital, property managers said Wednesday, possibly bringing some short-term reassurance to nearby neighbors worried that the lot could become a major commercial medical development. Investor Ben Gravolet bought the collection of two-story brick apartment buildings in December, and about 60 units are currently occupied, said maintenance manager Lisa Matthews. About eight more units around the complex are being renovated now with extensive repairs and new appliances, after which the buildings’ exteriors will get a facelift, Matthews said, and the final job will be a total renovation of the building at 223 State, which burned several years ago. The renovated units are intended to draw tenants attending classes at Tulane or Loyola, or possibly either working at Children’s Hospital or wishing to stay near a long-term patient there, she said. “We want to keep people that are clean and quiet,” Matthews said.
The proposed expansion of a Magazine Street bar, the possibility of a commercial development on Tchoupitoulas, and a child-care center on a residential block are all drawing the wary attention of their neighbors in Uptown’s Audubon-Riverside neighborhood. The agenda for the Aug. 23 meeting of the City Planning Commission includes a request at 6100-6108 Magazine Street — the address of Monkey Hill Bar — for an expansion of restaurant space and second-floor office and storage space. Audubon-Riverside Neighborhood Association board member Cele Gordon pointed out a Tuesday night meeting that the property owners have not sought to inform the neighborhood about their plans, and suggested that the association draft a letter making this clear to the planning commission. “Our association has never been approached and [we] don’t know anything about it, so we can’t take a formal position on it,” said Tim Betbeze, ARNA vice president, agreeing with a need for a letter to the city.
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.