Plans to sell a vacant lot on South Broad Street that used to be a filling station for New Orleans Police Department vehicles have been postponed indefinitely while city officials investigate soil contamination on the site.
The lot at 2600 S. Broad had been used as a pumping station since at least the 1940s. The city bought the property for the NOPD in 1983 and decommissioned it about a decade later, removing the fuel tanks.
The state Department of Environmental Quality certified the removal of the tanks, but it required remediation of the soil afterward. While the city submitted a plan to do that in 1994, no documentation exists that the plan was ever carried out, according to city records.
Thus, when the city decided to put the property up for auction this year, the state was unwilling to deem the environmental questions closed.
“The city is provided to require documentation that the corrective measures were implemented along with any sampling and analytical data if this information is available,” according to a September letter from Vicki Hadwin, a DEQ environmental science manager. “Alternatively, the city may submit a limited investigation work plan to confirm that contamination is no longer present.”
The proposed sale of the property is pending on the City Planning Commission’s agenda, but staff members recommended last week that it be deferred indefinitely until an investigation into site conditions can be concluded and the case can be closed with the state. The Planning Commission voted 8-0 to accept that recommendation.
The property, which is zoned for commercial use, has been in the cross-hairs of city planners for some time. It was singled out under the “Revitalize Broadmoor” section of the Unified New Orleans Plan in 2007, highlighted for potential “commercial/mixed use.”
Local developers have been touting the area more recently as a place to build. A company called Green Coast Enterprises led tours this summer of projects at the corner of Washington Avenue and Broad — including its own offices, the Propeller business incubator, the new 3 Potato 4 restaurant, Laurel Street Bakery’s new location and the South Broad Health Clinic.
Will Bradshaw, the company’s president, said the heavy traffic along Broad Street will make the lot an attractive investment.
“We’re interested in seeing it get put to more productive use than an empty lot,” he said. “I’m sure other folks in this corridor will be, as well.”
Kelli Wright, the president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association and a Realtor, said she expects interest to be high when the environmental hurdles are cleared and the lot hits the auction block.
Broadmoor residents already are looking forward to more retail as the commercial corridor rebounds, Wright said, and the city-owned lot would be a natural fit.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity,” she said. “We’re a hot little location. Plus, the hospital is coming, and we’re not so far away from that.”