WWL>Topics>>7-15-14 2:10pm Angela: on the Warehouse District

7-15-14 2:10pm Angela: on the Warehouse District

Jul 15, 2014|

Angela talks about developments in the Warehouse District with Michelle Kimball of the Preservation Resource Center, Jack Stewart of the Lafayette Square Association, and residents Dr. C.J. Bui and Margaret Sunkel.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Always love having nineteen shall stone learn something every time he. But we're gonna do one of our mental -- right now into a subject that is near and dear to -- Everybody in the studio and I think a great many people -- about warehouse district. A vote by the City Council last Thursday to allow a new hotel in the warehouse district has residents and business people in the neighborhood. Not just upset but committed to not giving up the fight to stop the project that they feel is too big. And will cause major traffic and parking issues. But residents were responsible development say they are equally concerned that there is confusion. Among counsel people on what the role of the master plan and is. So here to talk about why their organization is asking the mayor to Vito last week's council vote. Is doctor CJ blue -- a warehouse district resident. Michelle Kimball senior advocate for the preservation resource center. Doctor Jack Stewart president of Lafayette square association. And one of eleven people on the refined -- study committee. And Margaret song -- also a warehouse district resident. That we have everybody here it's such a busy everybody is busy lives says volumes that this matters a lot. We are aware that the council voted. And it was what 322. With them for 42 and Jason Williams wasn't there that's -- so. One. Were you surprised that you should really put up quite a fight. Well we weren't. We're really surprises. Company controlled had noticed buys today before that she was gonna vote for it. Okay and and one of the things we sort of picked up in this whole process -- is that you know there is a political -- etiquette like afterwards which most of the council members typically defer a vote wins. The -- council -- Whose district at him so once once -- council member. Is project. -- in that district. Votes one way and that really tends to sway. The bathroom door of of of the rest of votes so once. We knew that -- Control is gonna vote for the experience. Mean we were not surprised that -- -- on line. Let's talk about where this is is actually right -- sit -- on the window almost it's uncharted two list. Right current couple blocks off of pointers. And it's a little. Slice of land. And of the developer. Asked for a variance in height. From 95 feet and it was accepted at 65 feet. Yes that's okay so you are still thinking should be 55 feet. Now we think. -- should be we think it should be 65 people with five floors. In the 65 as opposed to six floors because sixth floor is doesn't match the rest of the buildings the neighborhood and makes it look very squatting in Disneyland -- OK and that is included in the -- -- sending district that was passed by City Council. Jack when was that twenty year. -- has -- -- City Council about to move. 322 years ago for two years ago and it was still took before that. Between two and three years to put it together the study to get everybody on the same page and to really understand. What we re doing because I'm looking at the entire area bounded by. Appoint jurists. The river expressway and oil. And -- looking at the owners -- tall buildings and areas with small buildings and trying to figure out what was a way to to achieve some some goals. With the whole thing but other than just tight but to making place -- a place a really good place to invest your money and a good place to be. And it's it's put it that consists of new Rawlins. Second oldest industrial district -- on second -- residential district that includes aware that the study includes the warehouse district and Alaska's greatest. So a couple of years ago was pass that there would be this type of zoning and assisting variance from. This first the first one is -- And I think that's spoke to the heart of why you why we were very opposed to of any kind variance because. A lot of council members as well. But he can't -- before you. Get the height they. They think both the he of these -- Some of that city planning. It's set forth. Prickly rationale that the it would find quite -- took you a number of years. And it had all the stakeholders involved which included the developers the realistic as well as the preservationists. Residents and that these. -- Irish fiction or interest would not pick on or we're currently that there were done in as a great content so then to pick off. You know -- variances here. And little friends there we thought really is on the minded. The hard work and good faith effort put forth by so is only able to reach. To reach a compromise. Tomorrow for a that your concerns parking and traffic. Is there no parking in this. Proposal. And I understand that there's. Yet -- currently there's new -- on site parking. Then the you make it would be 100% Bentley. Parking and I think that they went force to -- zoning board asking for a civil. Parking appearances. On top of this you have. To have on off site parking more than 300 feet away which was also part of the seat but I don't doesn't see him haven't gone yet and they haven't gone yet -- have gone marketed to the book bureaus have put zoning adjustment. Okay I'm just very curious somebody's building a hotel with 135 rooms and in -- not going to have parking on site parking cracked an arrest. And they will have a restaurants additional parking for the restaurant and they don't own any pain don't. They seem to flabbergasted by the fact that they're expected to have on site contains loading docks. OK. I wanna go back to part with the back to the parking was that addressed. Of you know why weren't they can put some parking and where they gonna park the cars during those who live and work down here it's tough enough. So. I threw -- -- CJ said my understanding that's going to be all ballet parking. And you know at one point -- down by the World War II museum but I honestly don't know what they have in mind as far as where those ballets are gonna park. And and your right it's difficult enough as it is in the neighborhood that wonderful World War II museum. -- parking lot and there's going to be a building and building there so we're gonna lose a lot of parking right there. Well that structure is going to contain parts -- your -- retail on the hoopla with some parking right. But they're gonna and a hotel -- to. And then going to have a hotel and so they're gonna they're very Italian use similar talking employees who use some of their parking their hotel guests will use some of heart in the restaurant recently in parking. And the spot where they proposed to build this hotel is currently parking for the ambassador. So not only are they not providing for on site parking but they're taking away parking that currently exist for the ambassador and the street. Let's go to Cassandra. Yes -- Cassandra. -- -- You're -- you're talking about part in the fact that they're going to be what 136. Rooms in this hotel. That's my understanding. -- we keep saying yeah. I mean and the developers state that no parking. That it would say yes yes yes we have to become a city of you know. For us to -- a building could be built and one it's -- in architectural plan but it. Like something in the 1950s. That -- essentially an avenue. And -- so outdated. With the wonderful nineteenth century buildings. They have had this -- in the middle of -- it's how we can. Justified this I don't know. And Jack's story is quite. There's things 65 feet but they're going to our letter. And I said if you're gonna have board where the hunchback of Notre Dame is kind of a big god. I mean it just it. It doesn't make any sense why we keep. What we have laws. That the that the plan that we have in place now. The law and we keep. Ignore it. Well you bring up that are deployed that we're gonna get into later about the whole master plan but for a listeners are really wanted to. A staff was what is this -- and why should it matter. Why should it matter even to those who don't live and work down here. In it and why why oh why it shouldn't matter. 65 -- -- No one. Are higher this doesn't if this doesn't fit in. The which are saying is you'll have worked for so many years trying. I have been around for forty years -- years in the quarter -- twenty years and Julia. And when I bought my place nobody went to put their big -- on the street. You know preservation resource here of course but building had been fifty years. You've created an atmosphere to work. You have people come along and -- -- I'd have to put -- ball over the air. I wanna put a hotel that doesn't belong in this neighborhood and make itself it's gonna block the sun now everybody else. It doesn't matter it didn't matter because we want and neighborhood. We don't. Why people here that care. And we want developers. Not to be confused and we certainly one City Council to be confused. Why -- be confused about it height restriction that we spend money. And you've got people that are built. That could go higher with keeping -- -- domain. Developers that follow the rules but did not want to you know they feel. Like this now so. We're gonna have to take a break stay with this if you like Cassandra we're gonna continue this conversation about what's happening in the warehouse district. And up about the master plan an -- what does it really mean. Stay with this financial under the that you will. Well we're talking about a proposed hotel in the warehouse district that was OK by the City Council last Thursday. And a group that is formed to really fight it for myriad of reasons. Is with us today and I do have to say that we did invite ten councilwoman Cantrell she was not able to a town into her schedule is already filled. But we put this show together very quickly it's not that we won't address it again invite her. But don't let this go back to your concerns. That this particular thing on -- to listen very narrow area that now serves as a parking lot they're gonna build a hotel. That you feel. The 65 -- is okay it's the cramming of all of them. A force. That is bothersome and the fact that there's no parking and what is it going to do to traffic which all legitimate questions why do you feel. That. Of the council woman felt it was OK because I'm sure you -- spoke with her. -- hand. She's she's she's she's she's thanks to -- she's thinking that she does -- -- doesn't seem to realize there were any huge. Boom right now in this somebody else we'll take it which -- hardest thing for me young to understand. And that we've got other sites we've got sites they could go 95. So -- just. What we can tell she she -- parking lot things have blight which we agree with him. But it seems she thinks that that we've got this one let's make sure we get them while they're still be before they go away. When you were talking about the design -- Cassandra was talking about the design of the building looking like 1950s Tulane avenue. Was there any discussion with the that the the person who's putting this together. You know this is not fitting in. With the environment here. But the the the the developers had not really made the process very transparent. In the sense that. For example. The very first time that the developers and architects. Mean the plan as a public presentation. To the neighborhood association. Was actually the night before the City Council vote so that was -- first time that. Developers have made that plan. To the neighborhood -- you -- the last week last week yes yes and that and then before that it was only you know if you were. Paying attention HUC. Proceedings for. Have happened and caught it on one of them -- Dot com articles but. For example. I'm president that the 83 toward. Condon. Association which is a building. Right next to that area. And in speaking with several others. Including. One of dental office. -- to bar. None of us you know where ever approached. And told about this at a time. So. When we heard about it. Second hand usually bit of a surprise. And I think that this is sort of the you the type of thing that. The current type of policies really sets forth which is that there's developer's main goal is convinced. City Council that works. There really isn't an impetus to convince the neighborhood. Or the resident because we don't impact that decision but other than through. Through the you know city councils so that's the type of thing that that is made the master plan. To resonate with. With the residents and one and we feel so strongly. About protecting that aspect of it because because because it keeps the president's skin in the game and forces. Developers to gauge -- To get the -- and not. Pretty much put on -- on. -- City Council. But if you have neighborhoods in agreement. It gets in the City Council quicker. Doesn't it and better yes if you that sort of join hands yes it will -- -- -- they still have to bring this for the via air sea of them. Even the way it was passed. It by the City Council it is to -- us to go before the the air CR to take review committee and CB DH DLC. For approval so it hasn't done that yet atop a -- backwards they're doing this. This thing may have known but of the City Council passes in the ARC says no we don't like this and they have to redesign it. I guess so yeah there's just keep going back until they come up with that are and -- rejected who knows what will happen but if they rejected to what happens to the council vote. If -- keeps a promise then then -- kept saying no. And it also still has to go to the BCA for the parking until loading docks OK so there's still three hurdles that they have to cross. Are there other hotels that don't have parking. They're probably some old little ambassadors knocking him talking because Davis that there parking is being souls that's going to be a problem but. Most most hotels have some parking and of the the the we were in a nice situation on the people on campaign -- Julia and around they came and gave us the whole design of the whole thing told us what but. Things that they wanted they stayed within the height study. Date they wanted to exemption for one loading dock out of three and they wanted five. Five talking exemptions out of something like thirtieth something. And 35. And that was -- the play more than they paid date and they didn't get the parking exemption but they got the one loading docks because we can't figure out nobody's figured that one out yet. And they we did -- nice trade offs today were very nice developers. Compared to these people very very nice you're not an we're not any kind development now residents are responsible development and I'm I'm with the Lafayette square associate and then remember that this group but -- but I the so but but they aren't there are a lot of developers that -- doing exactly the right job since -- -- is that. -- fiscally and set the rule -- -- there's dozens of projects that have been been done perfectly. Let's go to Paul in the C beating. -- -- Yes -- well. -- you had a comment or question. Get that. Adjacent to the property lobby if archer and there aren't golf course all sorts. For the audience resource. The group sure -- street -- -- group. -- that parents also wrote to substantial hotel properties that they. They -- spirit church bell pretty. Directly. -- such that. They now are and their farm which you. Achieve which real estate brushed. -- -- Who apparently media perhaps people old deal the other. War bottom line is there anybody here real substantial resource. Actually -- partly -- What -- -- are on exploratory. To secure what they chat with -- on prop up. -- what they propose. Into the City Council what was Torre accepted. -- -- propose a development -- are exceeds our hearts and that's here's this property and it is presently well. And their sport you there's so like there's the sick that. You that they are -- Any comments. Exactly -- -- have -- we definitely agree because the original plan came in. Asking for 95 feet her. And at that time the reason -- -- it was simply for economic feasibility saying that you know we built painting Lauren that. That you know it wouldn't make enough money forced to do the project. And then after an HD LC. -- that you know they adopted 85 feet again. Sending the same exact reason. And then eventually copying it to suddenly five and 65 so so I think that -- speaks to. The the call his point that is it is an exploratory. You know it is such warnings he. -- -- what they can do you have to get accounts. The vote is what's confusing me I hate to say we have to go to news but we do we're gonna come back we're not finished with this discussion and I do want to touch on something that's very important that is. What does our council look at when it sees the master plan. Stay with this financial. Will we are back talking to -- people who work and live in the warehouse district with their concerns. About a council vote a last week that allows a a project proposed hotel to go win. And not living within the guidelines of the height of the senator -- But more importantly in this is what we need to talk about now is because I frankly had never even heard of any of this. We did pass a master plan they reminded me it was in 2008. And it was for all the right reasons. And I think what X what this vote exposed was. That some counsel people are or different -- people are looking at that master plan differently. Is that am -- correct yes. Yes man. The US had asked the very beginning whether I was surprised by the vote. And is to be honest the first time in ever. Onto City Council hearing and witnessed the process. And what I was most stunned by was. The lack. Of consistency and the complete disregard by some council numbers for the master plan. And my understanding and I'm reading this off of the city of New Orleans website that it house the -- of law and that it's supposed to. It's for all of us I mean this is affecting us in the warehouse district right now. But it could be it's a slippery slope and it could be anybody in any part of New Orleans next. It's supposed to create zoning that's fair transparent and predictable. And now they're doing I've learned all these new terminology spot zoning. And you know creating variances and you know depending on the developer and and it's. It was stunning to me. Some look some interpret this master plan as this is a guide to. Or some interpreted as it is the letter of the law. So was their argument between them. Oh yes very nice to them. Omnia Stacy head who I understand was very involved Jack probably speaker -- on the war in -- development of the master plan. On. It was very vocal about it. Sheik rattle letter from Jackie boss talks and who we consider to be the mother of the master plan. So the the master plan really. Came about because. They -- it had been so many variances ridden into the current. -- that it took up over hundred pages. And City Council always had your authority. To override it and give waivers and variances and that's those -- always within their. There. Their -- And roll but. You know for the decades that had raised a lot of problems with the residents because. Presence felt that they did not have enough input into that process -- and of being. What this type of project as -- developers having easy wrecked. -- communication with the City Council and it becomes a presidency council type of negotiation. What else. The direct input from the residence. And then -- came down to a lot of frankly it is subjective opinion from City Council whose district -- you know is. X number of dollars and -- number of jobs. Worse this variance. And and that it became. A case by case the massive plan was really put in place to try to eliminate that. Create. Transparency and predictability in saying well if we all agree on this. And we decide to adopt a with a force of law. That that there -- processes to change that but it should not be done on the case to case. Project to project and should be done with the contacts of the greater good. So. Arguments against that in and yet to. Do you think this is sort of a revelation to this council that my gosh are looking at things differently. Well I think you can and inherently. There's a biases built into. This type -- system in which because. City Council has authority to give waivers and variances that meant and so. And anything that is put in place to restrict the ability. Does inherently restrict. You know some. Influenced me and and and I think that. City -- or doing it with a good heart you know that they've -- really meanwhile but that's the point of the master -- and that shouldn't be. Subjective. To each individual's decision about what they feel is in the best interest of this district. Vs what's ardent voted on and agreed upon by. Every one. And all there is wiggle room in the master plan now know the words in one of the things that master plan says is that. You can't change. Something -- risen a residential zoning to. Commercial zoning -- can. Can change the zoning from two family residential three family residential so there's some wiggle room so he don't eat it it doesn't affect everything. Does affect everything it lets the zoning on and handle a lot of the details and some of the things than in other things it actually you know this that. It that just is is more is more of of more rigid and and and totally predictable but you do still have the variances of that the F board zoning adjustment allows -- which are. If they're reasonable and and and don't create our chips are are not a hardship for the and eliminate possible hardship for some property owner. They're the you know that that's the kind of doing some -- wiggle room -- we still have wiggle rom. And and then we do have the ability change in master plan. As as as. Often as every year and is necessary and and and asked to be changed. But an opportunity changed every five years. So the -- processes. In place which you know we respect. Well we don't like is the fact that. There's processes for changes aren't being respected in this particular case because of master plan before -- That's -- -- -- in the charter clearly spells out. Saying that all land use and capital expenditures of the city. Needs to be in accordance with the master plan if it's not then it has to go through the review process for change. And that it was specifically. Highlighted that changes should not be mandated on an individual request basis which is what this is an individual requests. -- basis and so. That's where I think that. There's lot of confusion I think. On one side the City Council clues as well for example CC has has looked. I'd like the plan I think this would be a good news good product. But I simply can't supported because it's not in cahoots with the master plan. The city planning had made it very strong arguments about why wasn't he was with the master plan. On the other side I think the argument was not that it was a that it was in line with the master plan the argument was well the master plan as -- and as a guy. So because it's just a guide. These are reasons why. We think that it's worth the variances -- it was cited jobs. Tax dollars. In new development. Philly and they are doing and upon which which which we which we all think on good valid reasons but. Again at least -- the subjectivity of it which is you know it counts of -- that these reasons -- worse the variance when. We -- -- master plan was opposed to take them how do you equation supposed to take the political women. Gonna have to take another break please stay with -- and -- combat we're gonna talk about. You're asking the mayor for Vito stay with the some Angel on WW. Well we're talking about the warehouse district were talking about the proposed hotel were talking about the master plan. Rule of law and we're talking about -- unhappy campers here who are ear in essence asking the mayor to please vetoed this. What can rescue a bit more of that and they were asking in Memphis with clarity. Asked to Wear the master plan fits in local government the city does it have the force of law. Or or. Is it -- as a guideline. And and that's sort of where you know I mean if that's beyond just ask for the veto I think they were asking for a veto because I think -- Vito. Would -- in this case send a clear message that. The -- Supports. The principles of the master plan and that project should not get individual treatment and and and individual. Subjective evaluation of their worth for a variance. So so I think those of his interest and where is -- for a veto would also. -- clarity as to. What do we have the people who live in this area expect. The weight. And the relevance of the master plan as it goes forward as it applies to two local government and how they deal with projects. Let's go back Cassandra your back. -- When I realized that they are. It confusion part of the council when they -- this. -- for he's probably the most well versed people on the master plan. And -- can someone explain to the council that the law not negotiation point. We shouldn't have to go through the developer -- to the law a lot -- -- should be brought. -- -- -- correct you are. The master plan is a law in -- Regulations. And capital expenditure. Required to be consistent with. And in New Orleans home rule charter is the bell forty for this statement. It's not it it might be applied for developers. Did see that -- You know what they can't can't but it isn't it the law and time yet been built bar. I'm sure you know. He is so well -- on this and it's very clear to some people why it's not clear of the council. They need to read apple. Ask you all up and down there and your organization understand is just the individuals but it's businesses it's the Condo associations it's. What over 300 people on significant. When you look at that space what do you think would be inappropriate. Do you have the objection to a hotel or just this should be condos should mean. Oh. Now I think he and when we looked I think that we agree that you know empty -- the -- Halloween long term solution that space and and and we've listed to -- Petro. List of things that we've we've we've felt would be appropriate including. Commercial space residents but but also on a boutique hotel. And isn't a bad idea. Either and and and haven't quoted as saying that you know we're not against the hotel this isn't -- vote. Four Regency Hotel. Is that who's beat on and vote for -- against following the laws and four against allowing. Developers to get away with something. Especially when they had no intention of being within that framework in the first place. So that's. That's sort of where -- where when we drew the line. Okay. Stay with the second one we'll be right back I mean Angela Honda VW. Wanna thank all of you all for coming in and for our callers. What is the next step. -- This this tilt with several -- processes and have to beat gone through it still has to go to architectural review committee for the the central business district just to artistically and marks a commission and also has to go to the -- zoning adjustments for a a waiver on the parking requirement and went on the loading dock climate. So it isn't built yet is -- so we will just continue to follow -- and again I've learned a lot weren't a lot about a master plan for new Holland. And the process that you'll have to learn about. I thank you very very much each and every one of view and and to stay in touch with this. And everybody stay with us because we're gonna have another hour. And you guessed it we're not leaving today without talking about Jimmy Graham stay with -- I'm Angela under the if you will.