HABANA - RED ALERT
All that has changed is the name
The project we successfully opposed last year, i.e. the enormous event/bar complex known as Habana Outpost –is back before the Vieux Carre Commission, this Wednesday., Sept. 3 at 1:30 p.m. in Council Chambers.
The news is not good.
Aside from the project now being called Habana Café, not much has changed. The concerns we, and many of you, had with the initial project have not been addressed.
In fact, rather than scaling the project back,
the developer has actually made it larger!!!
Incredibly, there is more square footage for patrons in the new design than in the initial design. The overall capacity was one of the biggest issues with the first design, and now there’s room for even more patrons at this location. Such a large venue cannot simply be a neighborhood spot - it would have to draw patrons from far and wide, and that would overwhelm this mostly-residential section of the Quarter.
Mr. Meenan is a clever entrepreneur who has consistently envisioned a complex at this site which would host festivals, special events, other activities. This has not changed. Please watch the video produced last year which still holds true for what Mr. Meenan envisions.
Additional information is below, but first, please take a moment to email the VCC to ask them to defer this project! Email addresses and sample text here:
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Vieux Carre Commission members,
Please defer action on the proposed development at 1036 and 1040 Esplanade. The project can be revised according to VCC and zoning rules, and would then fit the character of this historic neighborhood rather than damage it.
Other concerns remain:
Both in form and function, the design is inappropriate for this corner of the Vieux Carre. The early-20th century gas station is set to be enclosed by a series of folding glass panels, and the rooftop used as additional gathering space. The sprawling patio space is separated only by a 2’ tall linear bench - and there is no separation whatsoever along the Esplanade edge of the property. Crowds could easily spill over onto the sidewalks and into the streets, creating a “street party” atmosphere.
The project as proposed consolidates two lots into one, creating a giant parcel. Such consolidations (resubdivisions, in the city’s parlance) are generally prohibited in the Vieux Carre because part of the neighborhood’s charm is in its small scale. A business of this size is not a neighborhood-based business. It is a destination. Its size would dwarf the vast majority of the small-scale businesses that dot the Vieux Carré and are part of its ambiance. Its intensity, capacity and associated issues would overwhelm this quaint, peaceful, mostly-residential corner of the French Quarter.
The Vieux Carre Commission is obligated by Section 8.1 of the city’s code to consider additional criteria when evaluating applications. Two points are particularly germane:
- The historic character of the Vieux Carre shall not be injuriously affected
- The value of the Vieux Carre as a place of unique interest and character shall not be impaired
This proposal is an indoor/outdoor commercial venue in an almost exclusively residential section of the French Quarter. Its sheer size, spread over multiple lots, is out of character for the neighborhood, and that is one reason that the VCC routinely denies applications to consolidate multiple lots into single lots of record. More importantly, the outdoor nature, and in particular the second floor outdoor use, is completely out of character for this historic neighborhood. Such an establishment would be ideal another location, one in a more commercial area, or not surrounded by dense historic residential uses.
We have never opposed commercial redevelopment of this corner, and in fact earlier in the process offered suggestions to the developer and architect on ways to lessen the intensity and impact of the project. Residents have stepped up and offered to buy the properties from Mr. Meenan. Our ideas were not only rejected; but in fact the project got even larger.
If Mr. Meenan were willing to operate within the confines of existing zoning and land use law, he could have had his establishment up and running by now. Instead, he continues to seek to impose his “vision” on one of the most historic, architecturally significant neighborhoods in North America.
Please plan to attend the Wednesday meeting of the
Vieux Carre Commission to make your voice heard!
Wednesday, September 3
City Council Chambers