On Thursday, November 5, developer Angelo Farrell will approach the New Orleans City Council to seek approval for a proposed 268 foot-tall hotel and condo building he intends to construct at 121 Royal Street.
The City Planning Commission issued a rejection of Farrellâs proposal, which is nearly four times taller than the areaâs allowed 70-foot height limit.
With a deadline of November 10 for the City Council to decide on the matter, the Council meeting on November 5 is set to be a showdown between Farrell and the many groups who have strongly objected to his proposal.
Preservation Resource Center Executive Director Patty Gay sees no place in the historic French Quarter for such an audacious breach of the established height limits on new construction.
âThrowing out the rules for this project would counter growth today, sending the wrong message to the increasing number of future residents and investors,â Gay said. âSuch a project would send a strong signal that New Orleans is succumbing to the âanyplace USAâ syndrome that has destroyed so many cities.â
Vieux CarrÃ© Property Owners, Residents, and Associates Executive Director Meg Lousteau agrees that bowing to Farrellâs plans to build 198 feet above the height limit would be a mistake.
âThis would be a high-rise in the most historic neighborhood in the entire city that also happens to be the driver of our cityâs economy,â she said. âIt is the driver because we have protected it so well for so long.â
Lousteau said basic daily operations of the proposed building would put an enormous strain on the French Quarter if the hotel/condo were to open as planned.
âThe property is land-locked,â she said. âBecause it has no side or rear access and it only has 44 feet of frontage on Royal Street, every single thing – every person, every bedsheet, every piece of garbage, every guest, every employee – everything has to go through 44 feet on Royal. Can you imagine the traffic nightmare?â
Taking into consideration peak load times for hotel guests and patrons of the proposed two-story restaurant to be housed within the building, Lousteau said all traffic in the French Quarter would suffer a tremendous blow.
Farrell has repeatedly claimed that the economics of his proposed development fall through without the towering height.
Lousteau points to a plethora of recent developments and projects in the planning stages that comply with legal limitations, representing $6 billion in investment, as proof that building up is not the only answer.
âThe market has never been stronger in the French Quarter,â she said. âThe idea that you can only make a development work in the French Quarter if you get these height waivers is absurd.â
The negative impact of approving Farrellâs plan would tarnish all the hard work put in by preservationists up until now, Gay said.
âWe benefit today from the determination of our forebears, who, decade after decade, envisioned and implemented an impressive city plan and built beautiful buildings as the city grew,â Gay said. âHigh-rise construction in the Vieux CarrÃ© and along Canal Street would be a contradiction to that vision and tradition, and make folly of the commitment to preserve what we have for future generations.â
The New Orleans City Council will vote on this matter on November 5. Contact your Council Member today to join the PRC, VCPORA, and French Quarter Citizens in taking a stand against the 121 Royal Street height waiver.