The City Council has backed a plan to approve a controversial new building on Magazine Street in the English Channel while demanding further design changes to the three-storey mixed-use building.
The district’s Historic Landmarks Commission had given design approval to the project in April. The Garden District Association then filed an appeal asking the city council to overturn the HDLC’s decision.
In the appeal, Garden District Association President Frank Tessier quotes extensively from the HDLC’s guidelines for new construction, pointing out the requirements – such as the alignment of balconies, roof ridges and other elements with the adjacent buildings – which he says were not followed by the commission when approving it. 2230 magazine design.
The appeal says the building is too large for the site, despite guidelines requiring size and mass compatibility. It also calls for elements of the facade, such as openings and materials, incompatible with the character of the surrounding buildings.
The building has seven apartments on the second and third floors and two commercial spaces on the first. It will be built on a vacant lot between two one-story buildings within a block composed largely of two-story buildings.
After the appeal was filed with City Council, District B Councilmember Lesli Harris hosted a meeting with the development team, District B staff members and neighborhood associations. The group came up with the list of design changes that the board ultimately approved.
“I just want to be clear that we worked very diligently with them. [the neighborhood associations] and discussed several elements that could be modified in order to have a design adapted to the district. said developer Sam Mickal Solomon of Bancroft Property Investments.
Alterations, like those by the HDLC’s architectural review board, aim to soften the building’s mass and make it more compatible with its surroundings.
The architect agreed to adjustments that include breaking up the openings on the second floor, changing the stucco cladding, opacity of the garage opening, using a traditional brick color and curvature of the metal railings .
The changes must be approved by HDLC staff, who had recommended that the board reject the appeal and uphold the commission’s decision. “A new three-story building in this location is in line with the neighborhood’s development pattern and appropriate to the context,” HDLC Deputy Director Eleanor Burke told council.
The board unanimously “granted in part and denied in part” the appeal. This approach has received support from the Garden District Association.
An earlier motion, filed by Harris on May 5, would have denied the appeal and upheld the HDLC’s approval.
“I feel like we have a compromise that’s not perfect, but no compromise is perfect,” said Shelley Landrieu, executive director of the Garden District Association.
The building sits on the river side of Magazine Street, which places it in the English Channel rather than the Garden District. The Irish Channel Neighborhood Association board, however, took no position on the appeal.
Residents of Channel Ireland speaking at the town council meeting were skeptical the revisions would allay their concerns. “Small changes in facades and colors won’t really make this building compatible,” said Laurel Street owner Adolph Lopez.
The Irish Channel is a fully controlled local historic district, where the HDLC must approve, in addition to demolitions, all new construction and exterior work to any building visible from the right-of-way.
Some residents, including a few who said they worked to get HDLC designation for their neighborhood 20 years ago, expressed disappointment with the commission’s recent oversight of their neighborhood.
“The historic character of the Irish Channel district is slowly but relentlessly being eroded by too much new construction which is not true to the look and character of the adjacent buildings and surrounding blocks,” said the owner of Seventh Street, Harvey Stern, during the hearing.
Joel Moak, a resident of the channel for 42 years, added: “The HDLC no longer considers the historic nature of the Irish channel.”
Project architect Lindsay Butler, while urging council to oppose the appeal, said she had agreed to adjust her design. “We’re definitely open to these changes in the building,” Butler said, “to soften it up a bit, to do something that’s a bit more palatable to them. [the neighborhood groups].”
Katherine Hart is the editor of NOLA Messenger. She can be reached at [email protected].