A cautionary tale.
In 2007, a “developer” proposed a building nearly three times the height allowed under the zoning law designed to protect the Vieux Carre, the economic engine of New Orleans. The New Orleans City Council, in a pitiful misunderstanding of zoning and economic development, exempted this one “developer” and one parcel of property from the law in 2011.
To be clear, in exchange for mere promises, the City Council changed our law, spot zoned property, and demolition has begun on a landmark of the civil rights movement and one of the last Woolworth Five and Dime stores in the country.
Notably, the building was in scale with the Vieux Carre and was eligible for renovation tax credits that, completely due to Vieux Carre zoning enforcement, have spread economic redevelopment the CBD, Warehouse District, Marigny and areas surrounding the Vieux Carre.
Now The Advocate reminds us that in 2013, Praveen Kailas, son of the developer and lead spokesman for the project, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft and one count of theft of government funds for fraudulently billing a state Hurricane Katrina recovery program.
Who will lend this “developer” the money needed to fulfill promises made to our City Council in exchange for our laws? Who will buy condos based on contracts with law changers? Will we be left with an empty lot, then sold to another “developer” at a price that causes him to argue hardship?
Of even greater concern is the ability and propensity of our City Council to overturn our zoning laws willy nilly, which they are doing more and more often.
Breaking our laws seems a gamble all “developers” would try when Councilman James Gray announces that zoning laws are only guidelines!
Hey, representatives of the people, don’t you get the game yet?
Can we pray that before the next election such officials make New Orleans a city of law, and not a planning disaster of illegal spot zoning and their uneducated opinions?
Bravo and votes for those who stand firmly behind the law.