New Orleans City Councilmember proposes temporary moratorium on VCC enforcement

Chris Litherland | CC Wikimedia
New Orleans City Councilmember Freddie King has proposed an ordinance that would allow a one-year moratorium on Vieux Carre Commission enforcement of preserving historical integrity of buildings in the French Quarter.

The ordnance would also allow permits for businesses to go through despite outstanding VCC fines.

On Monday, a town hall meeting was held at the Preservation Resource Center on Tchoupitoulas Street, where residents and business owners called on King to either withdraw or pursue the proposed ordinance.

Opponents said the proposed ordinance would gut preservation enforcement on the neighborhood, which is more than 300 years old, while business owners said it would offer financial relief and fast-track the permitting process.

The VCC was given power to regulate historic preservation of the French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carre, in 1936 and the district was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

The proposed ordinance is scheduled to be presented at the June 26 Community Development Committee Meeting. Read the proposed ordinance below:


VCC Architectural Committee: WWOZ proposes synthetic balcony, Bourbon Heat appeals renovations

The WWOZ building at 1008 N. Peters St. | Infrogmation |CC Flickr
Bourbon Heat has appealed to correct or retain renovations to its property and a proposal to install synthetic balcony decking are among the list of items scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting of the Vieux Carre Commission Architectural Committee.

The meeting is scheduled for 1 pm. in the 8th floor conference room of City Hall, located at 1300 Perdido St.

On the list of appeals and violations is Bourbon Heat’s proposal to correct or retain and renovate the property located at 711 Bourbon St., including increasing the height of a masonry wall and installation of shield string lights, according to the VCC agenda.

The string lights were installed in the courtyard and carriageway without VCC review and approval, resulting in the violation. A proposed solution includes replacing the lights with a “conical shielded type,” according to the agenda.

Additionally, the building was cited for attaching “impermissible clothing and merchandise” to the exterior of the building along the front of the business, which the VCC ordered to be removed immediately.

The committee also received a proposal to install synthetic balcony decking at a city-owned building located at 1008 N. Peters St., where WWOZ radio station offices are located.

Other items on the agenda include a proposal to correction violations and reinforce the building located at addresses 429-433 Bourbon Street, which encompasses the former Babe’s Cabaret and Nightclub; a proposal to correct or retain violations, including the roof-mounted HVAC unit at the French Quarter Mansion Hotel, located at 730 Dumaine St.; an appeal to retain plexiglass installed over French doors at 712 Royal St., which houses Trashy Diva Lingerie Boutique; and a proposal to replace altered millwork and convert existing window to a door, and installation of mechanical equipment at 610 Dumaine St., which houses Bungalows Boutique.

Read the agenda below for more information:


VCC Architectural Review Committee meeting scheduled Tuesday at City Hall

The Vieux Carre Architectural Review Committee is scheduled to hold its next meeting 1 p.m. on Tuesday at New Orleans City Hall, located on the 8th floor conference room at 1300 Perdido Street.

Agenda items include review of ADA-compliant door hardware at 416 Chartres St., a proposal to repair masonry at the French Market and an appeal to “retain relocated pool equipment structure and courtyard paving completed without benefit of VCC review or approval” at 628 Esplanade Ave., among others.

View the VCC Architectural Review Committee agenda below:

Advocates say balcony-like structure doesn’t belong on ‘rare’ Bourbon Street building.

Picture courtesy of the Vieux Carre Commission.
Members of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates plan to attend a Nov. 17 New Orleans City Council meeting to oppose a proposal to install a balcony-like structure on a “rare” Bourbon Street building.

The VCPORA said it opposes a plan to build a gallery on the second floor of Fat Catz nightclub, located at 440 Bourbon St. because it will damage the historic character of the building.

The building is rated “green” by the Vieux Carre Commission, meaning it has local historical importance. A VCC staff report in July noted the building’s entire structure is “historic and of significant age.” The report noted that the millwork and masonry visible along Bourbon, St. Louis, Royal and Conti streets are typical of the 19th century. VCC officials previously denied the proposal but it was appealed by Mouton Long Turner Architects on Sept. 14.

“This green-rated structure, constructed in 1819 as part of the Pigneguy’s Stables, is a particularly rare Entresol building,” according to VCPORA. “A rare architectural feature at 440 Bourbon Street needs to be protected!”

The City Council is scheduled to hear the appeal during its Nov. 17 meeting. The meeting starts at 10 a.m and will be held at the City Hall building at 1300 Perdido St., and streamed online.

VCC denies Cafe Lafitte in Exile roof gallery

Photo by Thomas Webster | CC Flickr
The Vieux Carre Commission recently denied an application submitted by Cafe Lafitte in Exile last year to install a roof over its gallery on the corner over Bourbon and Dumaine streets.

During a hearing held on Sept. 21, the VCC unanimously denied the application to install a roof nearly 10 feet above the bar’s wrap-around gallery located at 901 Bourbon Street, which opponents said would have diminished quality of life, including increased sound levels and pedestrian traffic.

Consultant Collaboration in Science and Technology Inc. said in an assessment report that the roof addition would result in an increase of eight decibels, or a 75% increase in sound levels.

“In addition, there may be significant increases in music projected to the deck and beyond if the deck is treated as a regular part of the bar,” according to the report, which said the roof will result in “cocktail party effect.” “This may include the low-frequency bass sounds that are especially annoying in the community.”

The VCC Architectural Committee conceptually approved the application in December 2021. A staff report said the application was deferred by the VCC later that month to allow the bar to find other options that could mitigate the sound.

The staff report noted that the building itself has a green historical rating, which has has local architectural or historical significance, although the rear one-story addition has a brown rating, or with “objectionable or of no architectural or historical importance.”

The gallery itself was added in the 1970s and also isn’t consider to have historic importance, the report said, adding that the entire building could be cons

Thomas G. Wood, listed as the owner/operator of Cafe Lafitte in Exile, said there is no one source of “intolerable or obnoxious” noise along Bourbon Street from Dumaine to Saint Philip streets and that he has never received a noise complaint in 50 years, according to an affidavit in support of the application.

Additionally, several neighbors wrote in support of the roof, including Darleen M. Jacobs of Home Finders International Inc., listed in an affidavit as the owner of more than a dozen buildings in the French Quarter.

Roland, Woolworth & Associates LLC, hired by Cafe Lafitte in Exile to evaluate sound levels, said CSTI’s report was “reasonable” in its calculations of increased levels but that the assumptions driving the increase are “speculative.”

The RWA report cited other contributing sources of sound, including from nearby businesses that attract crowds along Bourbon Street and brass bands that can be heard at least from one block away.

“The CSTI report does not reference the actual sound levels in the area or the actual (relative) sound levels created by the patrons, or the other sound sources in the immediate vicinity,” RWA’s report said. “This makes it hard to determine the impact of any sound level increase of the patrons, and whether this is significant at all.”

VCPORA called the application’s denial an “advocacy win,” referencing the French Quarter residents who showed up to the Sept. 21 meeting to oppose the application.

“No doubt a gallery roof would be good for business, but neighbors are concerned about setting a bad architectural precedent – there has historically been no gallery roof, and even the gallery appeared within the last 50 years,” VCPORA said. “Additionally, the increased crowds that the balcony cover will invite means even more sound emanating into the residential side streets.”