A plan to convert a former car dealership-turned-dance hall at 840 St. Charles Ave. into the new office of The New Orleans Advocate received conceptual approval Wednesday from the Central Business District panel of the Historic District Landmarks Commission.
The decision means the commission consents to the general plan to renovate the building’s façade and construct a second-story addition. Final design details will be worked out with the commision’s staff, but the matter does not need to go before the full commission again.
The St. Charles Avenue structure was built in the early 1950s for Klein Motors, which sold cars made by the Kaiser-Frazer Corp. The building was remodeled in the 1970s and in its most recent use was Michaul’s, a dance hall and restaurant that was a popular place to watch Carnival parades. Michaul’s closed last summer after its owner died.
The building is owned by businessman John Georges, who also owns The New Orleans Advocate.
The newspaper will move into about one-third of the mid-20th century building’s 17,500-square-foot first floor. The space will accommodate more than 55 employees.
The building’s original showroom, which can be viewed from the street, will be converted into a foyer that can hold as many as 100 people and will double as a place to host cultural exhibitions, book signings and other events.
Several hundred people will be able to fit into the building’s adjacent assembly space, which will be made available for rent to the public. The design also calls for a commercial kitchen and a coffee shop fronting St. Charles Avenue.