HDLC denies demolition of warehouse, other preservation advocacy updates

Concerns about the future of the Warehouse District were raised at the Central Business District Historic District Landmarks Commission’s (CBDHDLC) meeting on Wednesday (Oct. 4). The discussion resulted from the proposed demolition of the modest warehouse at 1060 Magazine St. to build a new construction museum and storage building for the National World War II Museum. The HDLC staff hesitatingly recommended approval for the demolition because the structure lacks substantial historic integrity. Several commissioners noted the redevelopment pressure in the area, which could be potentially disastrous for the district. Four commissioners voted nay, resulting in a de facto denial.

Also on Wednesday, the New Orleans Historic District Landmarks Commission meeting opened with words of appreciation for Tulane University School of Architecture professor John P. Klingman, who is retiring from the HDLC Architectural Review Committee (ARC) after 26 years. He praised the current HDLC staff and commissioners for their stellar work, encouraged practitioners in the field to think of their role as largely educational, and promoted keeping this city quirky.

In other business, the commission nominated 7632 Hampson St. for further consideration as a local landmark. Built in 1889, it was the last residence of John Kennedy Toole, the author of A Confederacy of Dunces.

The top item on the consent agenda was 502 Frenchmen St. On Sept. 19, ARC unanimously approved the long-controversial renovation of the Marigny building, which was constructed by a free man of color. The approved design significantly decreases the overall amount of roof demolition to reduce the visual impact of alterations.

Photo 1: 7632 Hampson St.   Photo 2: 502 Frenchmen St. Photos by Dee Allen.

The commission deferred an application to install a new chiller rack at the rear of the 1949 Singer Sewing Company building at 4176 Canal St., an individual landmark. Individual Landmarks are protected from all sides, not just what is visible from the public right-of-way, and the staff and commission found the proposed location to be too visible. The commission encouraged the applicant to work with the staff to come up with another solution.

The owner for 8500 Spruce St. wanted to demolish the entire roof on a one-story vernacular corner store in the partial-control Carrollton Historic District to add a second-floor addition. Citing the HDLC guidelines and concerned about the precedent it might set, the commission instead approved the demolition of more than 50 percent of the roof, with the caveat that the addition should be sufficiently set back from the front façade.

Photo 1: 4176 Canal St.   Photo 2: 8500 Spruce St. Photos by Dee Allen

In the Irish Channel Historic District, the commission fined an applicant $10,000 for work that occurred at 714 Seventh St. in deviation of a Certificate of Appropriateness.

A notable number of applications were for work in the Algiers Point Historic District. Staff denied a request to install decorative French doors at the corner entry of 300 Pelican St. Other applicants appealed ARC recommendations for a new camelback addition on 239 Atlantic Ave. The proposed exterior staircase, roof type, height, and the decorative details on the rear elevation were the top concerns. The commission recommended that the applicant return to the ARC but was willing to accept the exterior staircase given that it did not appear particularly visible from the right of way.

MaryNell Nolan-Wheatley is PRC’s Advocacy Coordinator & Public Policy Research Director.