Historic Loew’s Theatre threatened by out-of-scale redevelopment

On November 1, the New Orleans City Council will consider a preliminary design for the redevelopment of the historic Loew’s State Palace Theatre on Canal Street.

See the latest proposal here.

The developers have submitted a series of proposals to convert the 92-year-old theater into a hotel accommodating up to 250 rooms through a large tower atop the historic building. The first redevelopment option removed the ornate and historic interior theater; the second preserved the theater but demolished the Spanish Colonial façade. The City Council will consider the third option, which adds a massive pedestal that towers over the existing structure. The addition, at 165 feet in height, far exceeds the current height limit of 120 feet.

 

Rendering of proposed development courtesy Trapolin-Peer architects. Photo of current interior courtesy Matt Lambros at afterthefinalcurtain.net

 

The Preservation Resource Center is passionate about this vacant and important building being put back into commerce and its significance commands the preservation of its façade and spectacular interior theater. However, we remain in opposition to this redevelopment proposal as the pedestal addition physically overwhelms the historic theater, putting it at odds with the Historic District Landmarks Commission design guidelines:

“The architectural treatment of the proposed addition and its compatibility with the existing building should not be obtrusive or detract from the architecture of the existing building or the surrounding local Historic District, streetscape or adjacent building.”

The addition of new buildings atop of historic buildings can be a great approach to increasing square footage when done right. Often the concept fails, though, especially when the addition far outweighs the structure it is placed upon.

 

Canal Street is predominated by three- to five-story historic structures. A 45-foot height variance would create a dangerous precedent for future development along this important corridor.

The upper part of Canal Street is seeing a positive surge of redevelopment recently, as evidenced by the reopened Jung Hotel and the under-construction Hostelling International in adjacent blocks. This important and historic theater presents an especially compelling redevelopment opportunity in this resurgent stretch of Canal, and a building of this significance deserves a plan that is profitable for a developer without sacrificing its historic integrity — one which contributes significantly to the overall treasure that is Canal Street.

 

Let your City Council know this cultural and architectural icon on Canal Street deserves better.

Email your council:

District B – Council Member Jay Banks Jay.Banks@nola.gov, jenna.burke@nola.gov

 

Full Council Contacts with staff:

morenocouncil@nola.gov, jasonwilliams@nola.gov, Joseph.Giarrusso@nola.gov, Kristin.Palmer@nola.govcouncildistrictd@nola.gov,Cyndi.Nguyen@nola.gov, avtuozzolo@nola.gov, mrince@nola.gov, tgmcleod@nola.gov, andrew.sullivan@nola.gov, dcdickerson@nola.gov, tguerin@nola.gov