Honored Guests

So, it’s a beautiful autumn day on Jackson Square in the French Quarter. The press photographers gather outside of 520 Saint Peters Street waiting for the front-page shot. France’s President Emmanuel Macron steps out onto the second-floor wrought iron balcony festooned with the red, white and blue flags of our nations. Photos taken from behind him are views of the square and the historic Saint Louis Cathedral. The press is surrounded by street performers, musicians and artists with their paintings hanging on an iron fence topped by fleur de dis.

(Scratching record sound effect)
Nope, not this visit.
This is the first French President to visit France’s former colony in 45 years. In 1976 we were visited by leader Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and by Charles de Gaulle in 1941. Wouldn’t it be great if we could offer the best view and accommodations to our special guest of such a prestige? The City of New Orleans did have such a place. It’s since been converted into “Teedy’s Boom-Boom Room.”

Just 10 years ago myself and a good friend, Robert Hotalen, were painting contractors hired by the Upper Pontalba property management to renovate that very apartment. We considered it to be quite a privilege, not just to be hired to work on a historic 1850s era structure, but also this particular apartment.

We gushed over the assignment and asked the property manager many questions. His response from what i remember:
“The mayor doesn’t actually live here, it’s primary purpose is to be a guest residence for visiting dignitaries and VIPs. The mayor may host parties here for special events or hold meet and greats.”
“Hold campaign fund-raisers and the like?”
“Oh no. He wouldn’t be permitted to use it for that since its a city owned property. It’s only for city affairs and special visitors.”

It’s not like Macron would be there for long. It would function like a base of operations during his brief visit. A secure location for him and his entourage. From the standpoint of security, it’s ideal. One main front entrance, a small courtyard only shared with the adjacent 522 Saint Peters Street location. The stairway only shared by two other apartments with full-time residents.

A short walk down Lower Decatur Street, (OK, maybe beef up the security on that route) to visit one of the few remaining statues in the city. A gift from France in 1972, the statue of Joan of Arc is still an impressive landmark. “Joany on a pony” as we locals like to affectionately refer to her. Show the people of France that we do still have it and mostly graffiti free. A majestic monument to transgenderism. Again, a magnificent photo opportunity for both the press and the city.

Maybe followed by a stroll up to the river, a city skyline as a backdrop to answer reporter’s questions and more pictures. A short walk back to the Pontalba apartment to return important phone calls and state business. Perhaps an overnight stay or probably just a quick shit and shower before he hops in a limo to the airport to jet back to Frogland.

New Orleans needs all of the positive press it can get at this point. Most images hash tagged #Neworleans lately have been those from blurry security camera stills of hooded figures pointing firearms at crowds. It’s a tourism downer to be known as the deadliest city in America. It’s about optics, something our mayor has no clue as to the meaning of.

Back when I was painting the 12-foot-high walls I imagined what the finished room would look like. Adorned with valuable fine art on loan from collections, antique furniture that wouldn’t see daily use, only for very special guests. I hate to think how it must look now. I envision bean-bag chairs and a day-glow poster of Snoop Dog hanging over the marble fireplace. The apartment probably smells like the VIP room at a strip club by now.

Maybe the city can book him a room at the Four Seasons on Bourbon Street. After all, it’s where the old French Opera House use to stand before it burned down. President Macron can stroll Bourbon Street for the international press. Toss a few Euros to the bucket kids, toss a couple more Euros to the dude who knew where he got his shoes. We’ll even comp him a Fishbowl drink.

The local press giggling at Macron’s security getting jumpy at the sounds of gunfire from Rampart Street by people who never even heard of Macron. Thanks Latoya. We really wish to be seen as a world class city, not a worldstar city. A chance to polish the image of the city in eyes of the world and you blew it like, well, you know, a cop.

Beauregard-Keyes House seeks tour guide volunteers

Photo courtesy of Infrogmation | CC Flickr
The Beauregard-Keyes House is seeking volunteers to guide tours on its historic property located on Chartres Street in the French Quarter.

Located at 1113 Chartres St., the house was designed by architect François Correjolles and built by James Lambert in 1826 for auctioneer Joseph LeCarpentier.

The house’s lot was originally owned by the Ursuline nuns, who sold the property. Three slave-owning families lived in the house following its construction. John A. Merle, the Consul of Switzerland, bought the house in 1833. The BK house even once served as a homeless shelter and a welcoming center for troops returning from World War II.

P.G.T. Beauregard, a Confederate general, was once a tenant of the. Years later, the house was purchased by author Frances Parkinson Keyes, who was married to U.S. Senator Henry W. Keyes.

The house combines Creole cottage with Greek Revival architectural features, such as a Palladian façade. Efforts to preserve the house began as early as the 1920s with the help of U.S. military general Allison Owen.

Those who are interested are asked to email Leah Levkowicz, the BK House’s tours and collections coordinator, at leah@bkhouse.org.

Upper Pontalba Building retail location up for lease on St. Peter Street

The French Market Corporation recently issued a request for businesses to lease a “prime” retail location on the ground floor of the Upper Pontalba Building, located on Saint Peter Street, which became available on Nov. 1.

The request seeks at least a one year lease for a 1,080-square foot retail space located at 524 Saint Peter Street, steps away from Jackson Square.

Applicants must submit a completed business plan and proposal in hard copy and electronic forms no later than 4 p.m. on Dec. 2 either by emailing Robert Gurtner at rgurtner@frenchmarket.org, or the following address:

Attn: RFP Pontalba 524
French Market Corporation
128 St. Peters Street
New Orleans, LA 70116

Requirements include, among others, at least one year’s worth of rent equal to $45,360, banking and supplier references and a proposal that conforms with the FMC’s “merchandising goals of preserving the character of the district and perpetuating its architectural, cultural, economic and historical qualities.”

The Upper Pontalba Buildings are registered U.S. landmarks. The buildings are managed by the FMC, which seeks to “showcase architectural, cultural, economic and historical” French Quarter properties through a tourist-oriented retail market. The FMC manages the French Market and several nearby parks, including Latrobe and Joan de Arc parks.

The state of Louisiana owns the Lower Pontalba buildings on the other side of Jackson Square. The Pontalba buildings are considered the “first” apartment buildings.

Once an applicant is chosen, they will have 45 days from the acceptance date to finalize a lease. If a lease isn’t finalized by then, other applicants will be considered, according to the FMC.

More information on the RFP can be found at frenchmarket.org.

Parking restrictions, traffic control planned for ‘Joyride’ filming in the French Quarter

Parking restrictions and traffic control measures will be implemented on Thursday and Friday to filming scenes for the movie “Joyride” in the French Quarter, including on Bourbon Street, according to production officials.

No parking signs will be posted on Thursday starting at 12 a.m. and until 12 p.m. in the upper 900 block of Bourbon Street.

Then starting on Friday at 12 a.m. and until 12 p.m., no parking signs will be posted in the 900 and 1000 blocks of Bourbon Street, the 700 and 800 blocks of Saint Philip Street and in the 1000 block of Dauphine Street.

Additionally, no parking signs will be posted from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday in the along the river side of the 900 and 1000 blocks of Bourbon Street.

On Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., uniformed security officers will be conducting westbound intermittent traffic control at the intersection of St. Philip and Dauphine streets, and southbound intermittent traffic controls at the intersection of Bourbon and Dumaine streets, according to production officials.

Production officials said actual filming will occur on Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. They added that all driveways and handicap zones will be respected and kept clear during filming.

Anyone with large deliveries are scheduled during filming times is asked to contact assistant location managers Kathleen Butler, who can be reached at 985-373-9193 or by email at kathleenbutlerloc@gmail.com; and Owen Legendre, who can be reached at 727-459-4141 or by email at owen.legendre@disneympp.com.

Filming for American Idol, Danni Productions LLC planned in the French Quarter

Parking will be restricted in portions of the French Quarter starting on Monday due to planned film productions, including for American Idol, and by Danni Productions LLC, which will be filming scenes for a TV show.

Filming for Danni Productions began Sunday at 7 a.m. and will last until 7 p.m. Oct. 12, which will include preparation, shooting and wrap-up. During that time, no street parking will be allowed in the 700 blocks of Orleans Avenue, Saint Ann Street and Royal Street (the hotel valet only).

In addition, no street parking is allowed from 11 p.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Oct. 12 in the 800 block of Saint Ann Street to allow filming.

There will also be some street closures to allow filming, including in the 700 block of Orleans Avenue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, and from 3 p.m to 3 a.m. starting Oct. 11 in the 700 block of Orleans Avenue.

Anyone with questions or concerns is asked to contact Cedric Howard, assistant location manager, at 504-222-0604 or email at cedricrjl@yahoo.com; Erica Day, assistant location manager, at 504-487-1848, or by email at erica.locations@yahoo.com; and Isabella Renner, Film New Orleans Production Manager at 504-658-4355, or by email at isabella.renner@nola.gov.

American Idol Productions Inc. has planned to film portions of its TV series on location in the French Quarter on Monday.

Filming will began starting at 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Muriel’s in Jackson Square, located at 801 Chartres St., and near the intersection of Saint Ann and Chartres streets.

Production buses and minivans will be parked in the 800 block of Decatur, where no parking signs will be posted.

Scenes filmed at Jackson Square are meant to emulate a second line parade for the judges, according to American Idol Productions staff.

Staff added that during those scenes, bands will march along Saint Ann and Chartres streets in Jackson Square, along with contestants from the show.

Parking will be restricted along some nearby streets to allow preparation, filming and wrap-up, including from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. along the park side of the 800 block of Decatur Street.

Intermittent traffic controls will also be in place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. near Chartres and Madison streets, and near Saint Ann Street between Royal and Chartres streets.

Police officers will be nearby to ensure public safety and facilitate the production, along with staff from Film New Orleans.

Anyone with questions or concerns is asked to contact American Idol Productions Inc. at 818-748-1100, Josh Dyson, assistant production manager at 702-506-5777; Productions Manager Savannah Knowles at 949-370-7463 or by email at savannah.knowles@americanidol.com; or Film New Orleans Production Manager Isabella Renner at 504-658-4355 or 504-295-7734, or by email at isabella.renner@nola.gov.