The Deutsches Haus can once again call Mid-City home, the New Orleans City Planning Commission said Tuesday in agreeing to the German cultural organization’s proposal for a new building along Bayou St. John. But before construction can begin, the project’s architects must revise the building’s design to make the structure a little less Germanic-looking, the commission said.
The final decision is up to the City Council. The site is in Councilwoman Susan Guidry’s district.
The Planning Commission staff said it is concerned that the proposed design “does not mesh well” with the surrounding neighborhood or the city as a whole.
The proposed design was inspired by traditional Germanic architecture, including steeply pitched “jerkinhead” or half-hip roofs that are embellished with a patterned tile design.
“We feel that this best represents the Germanic heritage that we would like to represent to the city and would fulfill the mission of the Deutsches Haus,” said organization President Keith Oldendorf.
The organization engaged in a lengthy design process before submitting its application to the commission and would encounter additional costs if it has to go back to the drawing board, member George Mahl said.
“We had the pre-eminent architectural firm in New Orleans to design us a Germanic building, and this is what the pre-eminent architectural firm says is a Germanic building. So we’d like to keep what we have there on paper,” Mahl said.
But the planning staff recommended that the roof design be revised to a “more standard gable that extends past the facade of the structure.” The staff also recommended that the proposed lattice-like pattern on the roof be replaced with a simpler design.
The building was designed by Mathes Brierre Architects.
The Planning Commission approved the proposed building with the proviso that it is redesigned and another plan is submitted to the commission for review.
The Deutsches Haus has been temporarily located in Metairie since its former South Galvez Street headquarters, a small red-brick building dating back to 1910, was expropriated by the state and then demolished in 2011 to make room for the new University Medical Center in Mid-City. The organization’s annual Oktoberfest celebration has been held in Kenner since then.
The public celebration would move back to Mid-City when the new facility is complete, but the building would operate primarily as a private club, hosting membership meetings as well as social and cultural events.
The site identified for the new facility is a nearly 5-acre parcel of land along Bayou St. John.
The organization has proposed building an 18,342-square-foot building facing Moss Street on a portion of the site. A large event hall, kitchen facilities and classrooms would occupy the first floor, while the second floor would contain members’ areas, restrooms and a balcony, according to documents filed with the Planning Commission. A paved outside beer garden, a 197-space parking lot and a 3,500-square-foot maintenance building are proposed for the rest of the space.
Because it is a private club, a conditional use, the proposal needs approval from the city before moving forward.
In other matters, the City Planning Commission on Tuesday approved the release of the latest draft of the city’s new comprehensive zoning ordinance. It will be available on the city’s website Wednesday and will soon be available in public libraries.
The City Council will consider it on Thursday and, if it is approved, send it back to the City Planning Commission for another review before it is presented to the council for adoption, possibly in September or October.