Mayor Mitch Landrieu will return to toasting Carnival royalty from in front of Gallier Hall this year now that renovations have shored up the building’s crumbling façade.
The reviewing stands in front of the historic building were scrapped last year after a piece of stone cornice came loose and fell onto the steps below. City officials moved to the other side of the street to salute each monarch while the repairs were underway.
The move was expected to last through this parade season, but work on the building wrapped up early, said Cedric Grant, who oversees all infrastructure and capital projects for the city.
Workers were assembling this year’s reviewing stands — which Grant said will be larger than in the past — in front of the building Friday.
The fallen chunk of granite set off a $15 million campaign to renovate Gallier Hall in time for the city’s 300th anniversary in 2018. About $5.4 million of work has been completed to secure and restore the building’s façade. Those improvements were paid for with city, state and FEMA funds, Grant said.
Other improvements are in the works. A committee led by Cheryl Landrieu, the mayor’s wife, is working on raising another $5 million in private funds to redo the building’s interior, said Scott Hutcheson, the mayor’s adviser on the cultural economy.
Meanwhile, exactly what parade-viewing will look like in parts of Uptown is still being hashed out. Drainage work on Napoleon Avenue, which made much of the neutral ground inaccessible last Carnival, is still underway.
Officials are waiting to see how much of the construction is completed in the coming weeks. They then will issue maps indicating where parade-watchers can stand before the first krewes roll on the Uptown route.
But given the amount of work that’s been completed in the past year, Grant said, “much more of the neutral ground will be available.”