Commission proposed to rename Gov. Nicholls Street, other city roads following protests

(Photo: Infrogmation | CC)
New Orleans City Councilmembers on Thursday are slated to consider an ordinance that would create a commission to rename certain streets, a proposal that comes amid recent calls from grassroots organizations to remove so-called symbols of white supremacy throughout the city.

The proposed ordinance followed demands by Take ‘Em Down NOLA during a Thursday press conference at City Hall and protest against racism and police brutality held at Duncan Plaza.

The ordinance would create a commission of nine appointed members who will have an advisory role in renaming certain streets, including Governor Nicholls Street, which runs just over a mile and a half from Treme through the French Quarter.

The street was named after Francis T. Nicholls, a Confederate Army general who served two nonconsecutive terms as Louisiana’s 28th governor following the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Other streets targeted for renaming including Claiborne and Tulane avenues, Galvez and Poydras streets and General Taylor Street.

Additionally, Take ‘Em Down NOLA identified several other French Quarter locations it says bear white supremacist names, including statues of Bienville, Edward Douglass White statue, Andrew Jackson, the KIPP McDonogh School for the Creative Arts and a plaque at Washington Artillery Park denoting that its cannon “served the Confederacy in two theaters” of the Civil War.

The council’s virtual meeting can be viewed via live stream here starting at 10 a.m. and public comment can be submitted here.

Vieux Carre Commisison somehow overlooks decade-old unpermitted demolition of ‘significant’ Gov. Nicholls Street building

(Photo: 729 Gov. Nicholls St. | Kevin Minsky)
A building located on a Governor Nicholls Street property that received approval for a partial demolition was instead completely leveled a decade ago, although the Vieux Carre Commission didn’t notice it was gone until March, according to documents.

The missing structure was revealed in a Jan. 22 VCC hearing for a proposed renovation at 729 Governor Nicholls St. and later confirmed in March after the commission regained access to digital records, which showed the building in the rear of the property received emergency approval to remove its upper right-hand portion in 2009 due to “imminent danger of collapse,” according to a property report released at the June 10 Architecture Committee meeting.

But the entire building, which sat in the rear side of the L-shaped property, was likely demolished without approval in late 2009 or early 2010, the report said. An October 2019 cyber attack on New Orleans’s computer systems initially prevented the VCC from making the discovery, however the violation went overlooked for 10 years.

The VCC is a regulatory body tasked to preserve the visual character of the French Quarter, which is also a designated national landmark, and uses a color-ranking system to assign historical or architectural importance.

The Governor Nicholls Street building was yellow-rated, which “contributes to the character of the district,” and requires a level 2 or “significant” work permit.

A description of the building wasn’t provided, although demolition is rarely considered appropriate, according to the VCC.

Online records from the Historic New Orleans Collection indicate the property was first surveyed in 1722 and eventually contained a 4-room house, servant’s quarters and other structures.

“Although the unpermitted demolition of a contributing building is never acceptable, staff notes that the current owners only purchased the property in 2019 and were not involved at the time of the demolition,” VCC staff wrote in the property report.

Staff inquired if the current property owners were interested in reconstructing the building, but they wanted to keep the space open, the report said.

Commissioner Stephen Bergeron inquired whether the VCC could fine the previous owner for the unauthorized demolition, but that wasn’t clear.

Additionally, the current owner could also take legal action against the former owner, according to the report.

However, staff director Bryan Block said the VCC could require the current owner to rebuild the structure, but added the only reasons why staff approved of keeping the building demolished is because the current owner was unaware of the violation and staff wasn’t alerted because the structure wasn’t visible from the street.

Police search for suspect who allegedly robbed Keys Fuel Mart on Feb. 13 wearing hunting camouflage

Surveillance camera footage of an alleged suspect who robbed the Keys Fuel Mart gas station on Feb. 13. Courtesy of the NOPD.

The New Orleans Police are searching for a suspect wanted in connection to an alleged Feb. 13 armed robbery at the Keys Fuel Mart gas station on North Rampart Street.

The robbery occurred at about 12:31 a.m. when a suspect wearing hunting camouflage entered the Keys Fuel Mart in the 1100 block of North Rampart Street and displayed a handgun at the clerk, New Orleans Police said.

The suspect handed a white plastic bag to the clerk, who filled it with an unknown amount of cash and handed it back to the suspect, police said.

Courtesy of the NOPD.

The suspect then fled the scene up Governor Nicholls Street toward North Claiborne Avenue, then unknown after that, New Orleans Police said.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact NOPD First District detectives at 504-658-6010. Anonymous callers can contact Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111 or toll-free at 877-903-7867.

New Orleans Police search for suspect who allegedly broke into car on Governor Nicholls Street, took Amazon tablet

A surveillance camera image of an alleged suspect wanted in connection to a Jan. 8 auto burglary on Governor Nicholls Street. Courtesy of the NOPD.

New Orleans Police officers are searching for an alleged suspect wanted in connection to an auto burglary that occurred Jan. 8 in the 500 block of Governor Nicholls Street.

The incident occurred at about 4:36 p.m. when the suspect reportedly shattered the victim’s front passenger side window and took an Amazon tablet from the interior portion of the vehicle, according to New Orleans Police.

The suspect then fled on foot to an unknown location, New Orleans Police said.

New Orleans Police on Feb. 4 released surveillance camera footage of the alleged suspect, who is pictured above.

Anyone with information regarding this incident, and the location and identity of the suspect, to call Eighth District NOPD detectives at 504-658-6080.