A proposal to convert a Warehouse District structure into a high-end condo building was sent back to the drawing board by the City Council last week after the councilwoman representing the district said she feared the plan would disrupt life in the growing neighborhood.
The council turned down a request from the Downtown Development Group for permission to demolish 1035 Tchoupitoulas St. and replace it with a 10-story, 33,000-square-foot building including luxury residences and a restaurant. The design for the new structure, to be called Granaio Lofts, called for enclosed living space protruding about 12 feet into the public right of way.
The Central Business District panel of the Historic District Landmarks Commission denied the demolition request, finding that the present building, because of the brick and corrugated metal used to construct it, is a “contributing structure” in the Warehouse District. The existing building is a 4,000-square-foot warehouse that has been used for a variety of purposes, including as storage and temporary office space.
The commission’s Architectural Review Committee also found that the proposed building’s design would not have been in keeping with that of buildings typical to the Warehouse District, which it said have “plainer walls” along the street edge.
Although a number of people spoke in favor of the design, the council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Stacy Head absent, to uphold the HDLC denial. The site is in Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s district.
“I do believe that development and good development can and will happen at this location,” Cantrell said, “and I am committed to working with (Downtown Development Group President Joshua) Bruno on developing something that is more in scale and in line with the Warehouse District.”
She said the Warehouse District “is growing by leaps and bounds, and because of that I think it requires more thought for future development and more respect for the residents that actually live in the community.”
The Warehouse District Neighborhood Association opposed the demolition and the proposed new building.
Cantrell said she was uncomfortable with the proposed design and also had concerns about an increase in traffic in the area resulting from the new development, especially when paired with the previously approved Tracage condo tower nearby. She said she would work with the development company on a new design.
In other action, the City Council deferred voting on a request to convert Newcomb Boulevard to a one-way street between St. Charles Avenue and Freret Street.
The four-block street made headlines recently when the Newcomb Boulevard Association, a group representing the street’s residents, attempted to buy the street from the city in a bid to maintain a fence the association erected at the Freret Street end in 2006. Residents said the fence was necessary to stop cars from speeding on the street.
The request was denied and the fence has since been removed, in line with an order from a state appeals court.