Council overturns VCC, allows gallery on 440 Bourbon St.

The New Orleans City Council will allow the owners of 440 Bourbon St. to add a gallery to the historic entresol building, overturning a denial of the addition by the Vieux Carré Commission. The council granted the appeal of the VCC denial on Thursday (Nov. 17).  The VCC had denied the proposed gallery on the grounds that it was historically inappropriate to place a gallery at the entresol level, which is a low-ceilinged middle floor intended for storage —in this case, as a hayloft. The building was constructed in 1819 with a stable below. Today, it is home to Fat Katz Music Club.

More than a dozen preservationists and French Quarter residents spoke in support of the VCC decision. The five proponents included the project architect and two attorneys.

After the litany of speakers, only Council Member Freddie King, whose district includes the French Quarter, made remarks. “VCC guidelines are just that, they are guidelines not requirements,” King said. [Bourbon Street] “is an important source of tax revenue for our city, and this gallery should enhance the windfall.”

After his remakes, King moved to override the VCC and allow the gallery proposal to move forward. The motion passed 5-1 with Council Member Lesli Harris voting no and Joseph Giarrusso not present.

Also in the same meeting, the council approved a text change to the comprehensive zoning ordinance requested by Harris. The change seeks to protect the residential nature of the Lafayette Square area (CBD-5) by instructing the Planning Commission to recommend against new hotels that would displace existing housing units and when there is already a hotel on the same block and side of the street.