Monday, November 07, 2005
New tower in the French Quarter?
The demolition rumors
http://www.nola.com/archives/t-p/index.ssf?/base/library-89/1131174016142250.xml&coll=1. Or to get the damage assessment for your own property, visit http://secure.cityofno.com/SystemModules/PrintPage.aspx?load=~/Services/SafetyAndPermits/FloodElevations/propertysearch.ascx
Friday, October 28, 2005
Learning from what's worked - Charleston after Hugo
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The Usufruct Proposal
The idea has some merit. After all, something will have to be done with the thousands of homes that will be abandoned (and the city's current process, through the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, has never been able to handle even a few hundred cases a year). But many questions need to be answered before proceeding. Who would administer such a gargantuan task? How would fair compensation for repair work be calculated? Who would decide eligibility for the renovated homes? Who would manage these vast numbers of rental properties? And lastly, why is this idea being floated almost 2000 miles away and not in the city it would so greatly affect?
The timeless Lafcadio Hearn
The following letter to the editor, penned by C. Ward Bond, appeared in yesterday's Times-Picayune. We found it especially insightful.
When Lafcadio Hearn moved to New Orleans in the 1870s, he wrote to a friend back in Cincinnati:
"Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under a lava flood of taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become only a study for archaeologists. Its condition is so bad that when I write about it, as I intend to do soon, nobody will believe I am telling the truth. But it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes, than to own the whole state of Ohio."
Monday, October 24, 2005
Demolitions - the information vacuum
Yesterday's New York Times included a disturbing article (link below) about demolition of approximately a quarter of our city's structures. The citizens of New Orleans are being kept in the dark about these plans, yet our leaders are sharing information with out-of-state reporters.
We're scratching our heads, too.
NY Times article
Public hearing on "rebuilding and reconstruction efforts" on Tuesday, October 25
SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING NOTICE
TIME: 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: New Orleans City Planning Commission Board Room
1300 Perdido Street, 9th Floor
New Orleans, Louisiana
PURPOSE: Public hearing on the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts for the New Orleans area
Disaster Planning, Crisis Management, Recovery and Long-Term Revitalization and
members of the Senate Subcommittee on Orleans of the Senate Select Committee on
Disaster Planning, Crisis Management, Recovery and Long-Term Revitalization
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Public meetings information
Monday 10/31 - 2 pm - Bring New Orleans Back Commission, 4th floor, NottowayRoom, Sheraton Hotel
Tuesday 11/1 - 4 pm - Central Business District Historic Districts LandmarksCommission meeting, 830 Julia St. 565-7440
Thursday, November 3/10 am until. New Orleans City Council meeting. City Hall. 658-1000.
Monday 11/7 - 2 pm - Bring New Orleans Back Commission, 4th floor, NottowayRoom, Sheraton Hotel.
Tuesday 11/8 - 1:30 pm - Vieux Carre Commission Architectural ReviewCommittee meeting, 2nd floor, 334 Royal St. 528-3950
Tuesday 11/8 - 1 pm - New Orleans District Historic Districts LandmarksCommission meeting, 830 Julia St. 565-7440
NOTE: at this time, no meetings have been scheduled for the Housing Conservation District Review Committee.
Help for damaged slate/asbestos roofs!
FEMA blue roofs now dot many neighborhoods, but the older the neighborhood, the fewer the blue roofs. Why? FEMA won't install tarps on slate or asbestos roofs (so common in historic 'hoods) because their technique requires a soft surface into which they can nail the tarp.
Of course, there are alternative installation techniques, and Landmarks has been contacted by a kindhearted roofing professional who wants to help those left in the cold by FEMA. If you have a slate or asbestos roof that was damaged by Katrina, and need to have it tarped, please email Landmarks at firstname.lastname@example.org and write "blue roof" in the subject line. We'll do our best to put you in touch with the roofing group and get your house secure.
Or maybe you're the clever type who figured out a way to tarp your own hard-surface roof - if so, write to us and tell us how you did it. We'll share ideas to help those who aren't eligible for the FEMA program.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
A voice for preservation?
"We agree it would be stupid to rebuild New Orleans without carefully preserving our unique architecture," Forman said.
Full story at http://www.wwltv.com/local/stories/WWL101805preser.109f97de8.html
Many neighborhood and preservation leaders have made attempts to join the subcommittees, but as of yesterday none of the applicants contacted by Landmarks had been approached about serving. Time will tell whethere the subcommittees will, in fact, inlcude these obvious facets of our community and economy.
Call for volunteers
Neighborhood leaders are chagrined by the mayor's decision to cut the VCC staff so deeply. Nathan Chapman, president of VCPORA, called the decision "'a senseless amputation' at a time when protecting New Orleans' historic heritage is essential if the city's vital tourist industry is to come back." Read the whole story at http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/index.ssf?/base/news-11/1129701680198130.xml&coll=1
PRC hosts workshop on Friday, October 21
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
NY Times critic weighs in on "rebuilding"
HDLC, HCDRC off the chopping block
While the preservation community is breathing a sigh of relief, the fact that this idea ever made it to the point of serious consideration is still alarming.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Lolis knows what it means
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Historic protections endangered
The two affected agencies - the Historic District Landmarks Commission and the Housing Conservation District Review Committee - have different duties depending on the neighborhoods in question, but both review privately initiated demolition applications. Theoretically, the suspension of their jurisdictions would allow for unreviewed and unpublicized demolitions.
In preparing this decree, the administration chose not to consult members of the staffs or commissions of these agencies, nor any members of the wider preservation community.
(For the record, the The rationale given in the decree asserts that the regulations could "prevent, hinder or delay necessary actions...", when, in fact, the HDLC had already taken steps to streamline the process. Most applications can now be processed on the spot. See the 10.08.05 posting for details.)
Now, more than ever, the city's historic neighborhoods need the protection offered by the HDLC and the HCDRC. We hope that this ill-conceived idea will never be implemented.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Join the mayor's "Bring New Orleans Back" effort - if you can
Mayor Nagin's "Bring New Orleans Back" committee is reportedly establishing its subcommittees, and its 17 main members have until Friday, October 14 to submit nominations for the subcommittees. (The subcommittees include administration and government efficiency, culture, education, economic development, city and urban development, infrastructure, and health and social services.) Those interested in serving on a subcommittee are supposed to contact one of 17 committee members.
However, no information about the deadline or the process, much less contact information for any of the 17 commission members, has been posted on the city's website (cityofno.com) or the Bring New Orleans Back committee's website (bringneworleansback.org).
In the name of transparency and fairness, Landmarks hopes that the Bring New Orleans Back committee will extend its subcommittee nomination deadline and make a concerted effort to involve New Orleans citizens in this vitally important process. Public participation has never been more crucial.
Suspension of historic protection?
* The HDLC has jurisdiction over alterations, new construction, and demolitions in locally protected historic districts such as Algiers Point, Holy Cross, Bywater, Marigny, Treme, Esplanade Ridge, the Central Business District, the Irish Channel, St. Charles Avenue, and numerous individual buildings across the city. The HCDRC reviews privately initated demolitions in most of the rest of the city, with the major exceptions being Lakeview and New Orleans East.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Blue roofs everywhere
To get your house on the list, call 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258) or visit http://www.mvd.usace.army.mil/hurricane/chr.php.
Holy Cross - down but definitely not out
The news in parts of the Lower Ninth Ward is not as grim as the major media might have you believe. In fact, Holy Cross, the neighborhood along the river below the Industrial Canal, fared pretty well. True, most structures did take on water, but they are damaged rather than destroyed. Some buildings, including the Steamboat houses (one of the two is pictured here), were completely unscathed. The national media is beginning to make the distinction, as evidenced by this story on National Public Radio: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4952191
Monday, October 10, 2005
Get your permits here
The demolition question
To fast-track storm-related demolitions, the city will exercise an exception in its municipal code for structures in "imminent danger of collapse," requiring no notice to be given to property owners. Mr. Meffert, whose oversight includes building-safety operations, says proposed condemnations will be reviewed by the Historic Districts Landmark. He says buildings not found to be historic or architecturally significant will be immediately scheduled for destruction. "The city is only going to decide that which Katrina already demolished," Mr. Meffert says. "That's what people need to know to get past this hysteria."
Saturday, October 08, 2005
HDLC back in action!
The staff and commissioners understand that many property owners need to make immediate repairs and changes to their buildings, and have therefore streamlined the application process. In many cases, the staff can issue Certificates of Appropriateness on the spot (although in some cases further permits will be necessary from the Department of Safety and Permits, also reopened and located in City Hall).
To reach the HDLC, call 565-7440 or email them at their temporary email address: email@example.com.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
"Reinventing" New Orleans
Flatten the slums, build staff quarters, give the French Quarter and the surrounding areas to Disney or Harrah's and turn it into a play park for grownups. Phil, Houston, Texas
To read the full article, go to http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/10/05/feedback.reinvent/index.html
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Another piece of jazz history lost
Yet another piece of jazz history has been lost. Katrina began the process, causing the third floor of what was once the Grunewald Music School to collapse. But what Katrina started, volunteer firefighters apparently finished. According to witnesses, the volunteers used a "strong arm" truck to punch through the thick brick walls of the still-standing second floor, causing the remaining walls and floors to collapse.
Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, features an article about the incident on its home page: www.preservationonline.org, and the Times-Picayune also chronicled the loss at
They just built 'em better back then
English, who has a degree in architecture, said that old homes were built with a denser wood that is more resistant to mold and rot. And those homes were built with painstaking craftsmanship better than today's workmanship, she suggested.
Read more at http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/10/03/new.orleans.rebuilding/index.html
Monday, October 03, 2005
No representation for neighborhoods on the mayor's "Bring New Orleans Back" committee
For more details, go to http://bizneworleans.com/109+M5efd968bb74.html.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Red-flagging buildings does NOT mean demolition
New Orleans Nine update
As some of you know, Landmarks created the city's first Most Endangered list this year and unveiled the selections back in May. We're trying to ascertain the condition of each of the sites. Below is the most current information that we have.
Passebon Cottage – roof blown off slave quarters; additional brick loss in already-damaged front wall
Rigolets Lighthouse – unknown
Iberville Housing Project – some water damage on first floor of units
Pan-Am Life Building – unknown, but assume water damage on first floor
1385 Constance Street – main building collapsed; rear wing still standing (picture above left)
200 - 700 blocks of Bourbon Street – no major damage; some missing roof shingles
1139 St. Philip Street – some standing water on the first floor
Carver Theater – water likely on first floor of theater; lobby may have been spared
Sidewalk tiles – no apparent damage
Who will have a voice in shaping the New New Orleans?
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Losses along the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Monday, September 26, 2005
Historic District Landmarks Commission
More on mold
Still haven't gotten your fill of mold information? Check out this handy Q&A page from the Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm. It
National Trust website
The home page of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's website (www.nationaltrust.org) is now devoted to the Katrina response. Get oodles of information on everything from repairing flood damage to photos and contacting your legislators.
Grants and other assistance
A visit to the Pitot House last week confirmed what satellite photos and second-hand accounts had suggested: the building seems to have sustained virtually no damage. In fact, we had no standing water on the grounds at all. Some trees had fallen, crushing parts of our pieux fence, and one louvered shutter has been destroyed, but overall we fared very well. What a testament to traditional building methods.