As Developer Sean Meenan goes before the Vieux Carre Commission's Architectural Review Committee on Tuesday with his revised architectural proposal for a mega-event complex at the corner of Esplanade and North Rampart, public opposition to the fast-food chain restaurant and event venue is growing.
The Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, the Preservation Resource Center and the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association have joined a number of resident groups, including VCPORA, and French Quarter Citizens Inc., in stating their public concern about the Outpost proposal's inappropriateness for the historic residential neighborhood corridor. VCPORA stands for Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates.
Preservationists and residents have repeatedly urged the VCC to review and enforce city laws, zoning ordinances and VCC rules when considering the Habana Outpost project and protect the value of the Quarter as a neighborhood and unique place of interest. Residents have reiterated in various public hearings since the Outpost concept was made public for the corner of Esplanade and Rampart Street that it violates City Zoning Code (Section 8.1).
“What is a bit of a mystery to us is that the VCC appears to be allowing Sean Meenan to bundle properties and consolidate them into a mega-fast food, chain development, whereas they forbid Mary’s Hardware from doing the exact same thing on Rampart Street,” said Resident Rene Fransen. “If the zoning code was enforced for that local businessman, why not this one?”
Habana Outpost is a Brooklyn development by Sean Meenan which serves food and alcoholic drinks from open, trailer-style kitchens on disposable plates, regularly hosts neighborhood festivals and flea markets that spill patrons into the streets, and operates from an open-air configuration, which sometimes hosts movies, concerts and talent shows.
Mr. Meenan’s New Orleans proposal is a two-story, open-air development across three lots, which he admits would hold a minimum of 469 patrons, though elsewhere in his proposals he lists the capacity as 670. Though no Fire Marshall report has been issued, residents believe the capacity of the proposed development could be double that number, according to Mr. Fransen.
Fast-food, chain restaurants are against zoning rules for the lower residential end of the Quarter, and the Department of Safety and Permits already rejected the proposal for this reason in July, 2013. (see http://www.kreweoftruth.com/web/data/documents/130812_City_of_NOLA_Business_License_DENIAL_Habana.pdf)
Residents also point to Section 134 of the City’s Code of Ordinances and, Section 12.3 Article 2 of the City’s Zoning Ordinance as forbidding the Habana Outpost proposal. The VCC Architectural Committee meets Tuesday, November 26, 1:30 p.m., 7th floor Conference Room D at City Hall, 1300 Perdido St., NOLA.