River Street Development

A proposal to build a mixed-use development offering hundreds of apartment units on more than three acres adjacent to the Mississippi River Levee in Algiers Point failed to reach a majority decision by the New Orleans City Planning Commission. The project moves on to the City Council for a decision.

RENDERING BY PEREZ/PROVIDED BY CITY OF NEW ORLEANS

A proposal to build a mixed-use development offering hundreds of apartment units on more than three acres adjacent to the Mississippi River Levee in Algiers Point was granted another reprieve Tuesday from members of the New Orleans City Planning Commission.

The application for the project was submitted by River Street Ventures LLC, a limited liability corporation that lists Philip Spiegelman as a managing member.

The commission voted 7-0 to defer a decision on the matter for one month to allow Spiegelman to revise his plans, which must be resubmitted by Friday. The project would be situated in City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey's district. 

The site, which is currently undeveloped, is bound by Brooklyn Avenue, Socrates and De Armas streets, and the Mississippi River Protection Levee and River Street.

Plans call for building four, 8-story buildings, which would include a pool, patio and seating areas as well as a pedestrian walkway along Lamarque Street. The proposal includes ground-floor commercial space for three tenants, varying from 2,981 square feet to 17,271 square feet. Residential units would be located on the upper levels, and the buildings would include central parking garages to serve residents and shoppers.

The project's fate has been uncertain for some time. The commission initially delayed a vote on the proposal in November to give the developer more time to meet with neighbors, collect feedback and make adjustments.

The developer has since scaled back the project, reducing the height from 102 feet to 85, and the number of units from 386 to 345, including 35 units that would be provided at 80 percent of the area's median income. Additionally, plans for a proposed pedestrian bridge were scrapped, although the proposal to use Lamarque Street as a pedestrian walkway remains intact.

The planning commission's staff recommended denial of the project's request for a conditional-use permit to allow for increasing the building's height and density, contending partly that it had not had sufficient time to review and complete an analysis of the most recent revised plans.

The project has faced opposition from local neighborhood groups, including the Algiers Riverview Association and the Algiers Point Association.

In a Jan. 5 letter to the City Planning Commission, Kelsey Foster, president of the Algiers Point Association, said the project lacked adequate amenities for the larger community to justify granting it a conditional-use permit. Foster suggested adding a grocery, bakery, cafe and providing more green infrastructure that's accessible to nearby residents.

The letter said the group was "concerned that a large apartment complex such as this will not compliment the Old Algiers neighborhood and, unless it provides the aforementioned amenities, has the potential of becoming, over time, an unattractive low-end housing complex."

Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.