This news brief appeared in the February issue of PRC’s Preservation in Print magazine. Interested in getting more preservation stories like this delivered to your door nine times a year? Become a member of the PRC for a subscription!
Built for a K&B drug store, the single-story, mid-20th-century building at the corner of St. Charles and Louisiana avenues has been vacant since 2018. The Bestoff family retains ownership of the property at 3401 St. Charles Ave. and has announced plans to redevelop the site with a series of multistory, mixed-use buildings.
A five-story Italianate building, known as the Ghisalberti Flats Building, once stood at that corner (and housed a K&B on the first floor). Citing that precedent, the architecture firm Metro Studio has proposed a 65-foot structure that would require a variance from the 45-foot maximum in the current zoning. At the Jan. 19 meeting of the Architectural Review Committee of the Historic District Landmarks Commission, residents of the Delachaise neighborhood voiced opposition to the height of the proposed development and concerns about parking impacts.
Some members of the ARC appeared open to the height of the proposal, provided that the uppermost floor was set back from those below. However, ARC members were adamant that a courtyard or other green space be incorporated into the site plan.
Any height variance would need to be granted by the Board of Zoning Adjustments. That board is staffed by the City Planning Commission, the HDLC’s sister agency within the newly created Offices of Business and External Services. At its meeting, the ARC deferred the project for a second time, asking staff to resolve the question of which agency should act first. The project also includes a series of three-story townhomes on Caroneolet and Delachaise streets, which will require demolition of an existing small apartment building.
The Ghisalberti Flats apartment building was constructed in 1905 at 3401-3405 St. Charles Ave. “The structure was demolished in the mid-1950s when Katz & Besthoff, formerly a ground-floor tenant, erected a new drugstore on the site,” according to The Historic New Orleans Collection. Rite Aid bought the K&B chain in 1997. The drugstore at 3401 St. Charles Ave. closed in 2018.
Photo 1: The former Rite Aid drugstore at 3401 St. Charles Ave. closed in 2018. The building has been vacant since. Photo 2: The photo of the Ghisalberti Flats apartment building was taken by Charles L. Franck Studio in 1948. Image courtesy of The Charles L. Franck Studio Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection, Acc. No. 1979.325.1606.
Proposed plans for the building.
Nathan Lott is PRC’s Advocacy Coordinator & Public Policy Research Director.