Decision on lower Magazine Street performance venue postponed: Owners challenge neighbors’ right to appeal

The latest challenge to the zoning of a new immersive-theatre venue in a Magazine Street warehouse at the edge of the Lower Garden District was postponed Monday to December, after the building owners countered with the allegation that their critics have missed the deadline to object. Lower Garden District residents Seth and Rosa Dunlap began meeting with their neighbors in the spring of this year about their idea to convert the vacant warehouse at 1152 Magazine Street into a new venue for a permanent “immersive theatre” performance called The Fallen Saint. The Prohibition-era jazz-themed show will be created by veterans of the Blue Man Group and other avant-garde theatre projects in New York City, and the venue will include a full-service restaurant open when the show is not playing, the Dunlaps have said. The project requires a conditional-use permit from the city for the bar, the live entertainment and the size of the venue, and as it progressed through the city’s approval process, it became increasingly controversial within the neighborhood. While the Lower Garden District Association ultimately stayed neutral on the issue, a group of other neighbors led by artist William Monaghan and some of the founding members of the Coliseum Square Association hired attorney David Halpern to help them oppose the project based on concerns about noise, loitering and traffic.

Lower Garden District venue for “Fallen Saint” immersive-theatre project wins unanimous City Council vote

The controversial proposal to convert a former Lower Garden District warehouse into a venue for a permanent new-to-New Orleans immersive-theatre production called “The Fallen Saint” won unanimous approval from the City Council on Thursday — overcoming ardent opposition from some nearby neighbors by agreeing to an exhaustive list of operating conditions described as without precedent in the city. Lower Garden District residents Seth and Rosa Dunlap are seeking a conditional-use permit for an indoor amusement facility at their property at 1152 Magazine Street, so they can convert the former warehouse into a permanent venue for a new immersive-theatre experience to be called “The Fallen Saint.” The show’s New York based producers — veterans of the acclaimed Blue Man Group production — describe the concept as an interactive theatre event based on Prohibition-era New Orleans, where patrons will mingle with performers in small-group settings, singing along with them around a piano together instead of observing the music from a seated audience. Most of the debate at Thursday’s City Council meeting over the request followed the same contours as previous debates over it at previous hearings of the City Planning Commission or the Lower Garden District Association. The Dunlaps promised a high-class artistic endeavor just steps from their own home that will employ 200 people and add a new element to tourism in New Orleans.

Controversial “Fallen Saint” music venue to be deferred by City Council until October meeting

The controversial proposal to convert a vacant warehouse at the edge of the Lower Garden District into a venue for an immersive-theater experience called “The Fallen Saint” will be deferred by the City Council again until their October meeting, officials said. Owners Seth and Rosa Dunlap are seeking a conditional-use permit from the City Council to allow a bar and live entertainment in the building at 1152 Magazine Street, but have run into adamant opposition from neighbors. Opponents say the project will likely overburden the neighborhood with noisy, drunken patrons and traffic, and that it could become a full-fledged nightclub or something much more objectionable if The Fallen Saint leaves. While one group of longtime Lower Garden District activists have been publicly organizing opposition to the project, the Lower Garden District Association had been poised to support it earlier this summer. In return, the association had asked that the Dunlaps sign a restrictive covenant agreeing to relinquish the conditional-use permits that allow the venue if they sell the building or lose the Fallen Saint lease.

City Planning Commission votes to approve “The Fallen Saint” immersive-theatre project (live coverage)

The City Planning Commission gave unanimous approval this afternoon to the new “Fallen Saint” immersive theatre venue on Magazine Street, after hearing from dozens of Lower Garden District neighbors. The meeting has just concluded, and this article will be updated soon with a summary of the debate. To read a recap of the meeting, see our live coverage below:

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City planners endorse “Fallen Saint” immersive theatre venue in Lower Garden District

As the first hearing before city officials approaches for a warehouse on Magazine Street slated to be converted into the venue for an avant-garde immersive theatre project called “The Fallen Saint,” Lower Garden District residents are continuing an increasingly heated debate about whether its traffic will revitalize that corner of the neighborhood or overburden it. The proposal by Lower Garden District residents Seth and Rosa Dunlap to redevelop a warehouse at 1152 Magazine Street — practically underneath the Pontchartrain Expressway — into the permanent venue for a show that will plunge visitors into a Prohibition-era jazz story, with multiple small performances simultaneously ongoing in different spaces within the building. They propose eight shows a week — once a day during the week, and two on the weekends — with a restaurant and cafe operating full-time during the day and during the show, and would like to be open in time for Jazz Fest 2019. The project needs a conditional-use permit from the city to become a bar with live entertainment as its secondary use, and that request is scheduled to have its first appearance before the City Planning Commission on Tuesday afternoon. The city planners who reviewed the proposal are recommending the commissioners approve it, saying it meets the goal of the master plan to increase walkability of major commercial corridors.

“The Fallen Saint” immersive theatre production plans to make Magazine Street warehouse its venue

A new form of avant garde immersive theatre popular in New York City is seeking to make a Magazine Street warehouse its home in New Orleans, producers of the project told Lower Garden District neighbors this week. “The Fallen Saint” will combine live music and theatre in a series of intimate settings inside the warehouse at 1152 Magazine Street, said Seth and Rosa Dunlap, the owners of the building. The building will also feature a full-service restaurant with live music that will operate even when the show is not running, they said. Jennie Willink, who produced the popular “Queen of the Night” and has worked with the creators of “Sleep No More” to develop performance venues and entertainment concepts, is working with several of her former colleagues from earlier in her career at Blue Man Group to create the New Orleans project. The New York Times described “Queen of the Night” as “a circus of intimate sensation” in 2014 and “Sleep No More” as “a voyeur’s delight” in 2011.