Kenner Planning Commission recommends approval of plan for apartment complex at old movie theater site _lowres


A Baton Rouge developer is eyeing a former movie theater property near the Esplanade Mall in Kenner for an apartment complex of three- and four-story buildings.

The Gateway at Esplanade complex would have 265 one-, two- and three-bedroom units in three buildings plus 413 parking spaces, all on about nine acres, according to plans submitted to the city’s Planning Department.

The Planning Commission was set to consider approving a “planned unit development” for the property Wednesday evening, but late Tuesday the developer requested a deferral, which means the issue likely will wait until the commission’s August meeting, Planning Director Jay Hebert said.

“We expect that they’ll defer it, knowing there are a couple of outstanding issues with it,” Hebert said.

That will give residents in the nearby Cannes Brulees subdivision a chance to air their concerns about access, noise, drainage, privacy and other issues before the Planning Commission makes its recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say.

A meeting on the proposal last week was poorly attended, and some Cannes Broulees residents began circulating a flier voicing opposition to the development and how the approval process was being handled.

Councilman Leonard Cline scheduled another meeting for Tuesday, when developer Lacy Howe will answer questions and hear concerns from residents.

The plans for the development were submitted by Giraffe Real Estate Corp., which is based in New York and recently purchased the Siegen Oaks Apartments in Baton Rouge, according to news reports.

Howe could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

Cline said the apartments would rent for between $1,100 and $2,000 a month.

The former movie theater draws vandals and graffiti, he said. “We want to place it back into commerce if we can,” he said, though he said he has not decided whether to support the Gateway at Esplanade project.

He said concerns of residents need to be taken into account, but one issue he said would likely not be a problem is access to the property, which he said would come from the ring road around the mall and not through the Cannes Brulees subdivision to the west.

The property is owned by Clancy Developments, which leased the land to the movie theater after getting it approved by the City Council in 1986.

The parcel has no zoning designation; its use instead is approved by the city on a case-by-case basis, which Hebert said is not uncommon for tracts bigger than two acres.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.