The New Orleans City Planning Commission voted 6 to 0 on Tuesday (Feb. 28) to deny the owners of 604 Julia St. permission to convert that historic townhouse into a hotel. One of the “13 Sisters of Julia Row” designed by Alexander Thompson Wood and built in 1832, the building was previously the headquarters for the Preservation Resource Center. PRC purchased the property in 1976 when the area was still disparaged as “skid row,” and the building’s renovation is credited with inspiring many that followed. The PRC sold the property in 1999.
604 Julia currently is home to apartments on the upper floors and an art gallery on the ground floor, which the would-be hoteliers proposed to keep. PRC joined seven current and former residents of Julia Row and neighbors to express opposition to the proposed conversion. PRC’s Nathan Lott encouraged the commissioners to vote in favor of long-term housing near downtown jobs. The commission and the City Council recently adopted more detailed criteria for hotels in the Lafayette Square area (Zoning District CBD-5), which discourages the conversion of residential units for hospitality.
While acknowledging that the proposed six-room hotel would not have the same impact as a larger one, commissioners, when explaining their decision, cited the significance of the building, the importance of full-time residents to the neighborhood, and the potential negative impacts on two adjoining townhouses. The City Council now must vote to uphold or modify the commission’s decision.
Nathan Lott is PRC’s Policy Research Director and Advocacy Coordinator.