By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |
The Greek Revival mansion appeared in the final episode of “K-ville,” the (mercifully) short-lived post-Katrina television series, but the final curtain was rung down just yesterday when the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee voted 7-to-1 to demolish the rundown house at FEMA’s expense.
Earlier efforts to secure protective designation for the Central City mansion and several comparably interesting structures had been rejected by the Historic District Landmarks Commission after community members opposed their preservation.
In discussion of the demolition request, no mention was made of the infamous and much lampooned “gumbo parties,” which producers of the ill-fated cop series seemed to think were a fixture on every New Orleanian’s social calendar.
The owner who lives in an addition on the rear of the Baronne Streetproperty was in favor of the demolition.
There are over $15,000 in code enforcement fines on the structure, some or all of which can be negotiated away when a property is yielded to bulldozers.
In a separate action, the Conservation Committee backed Mid-City property owner Kimberly Kuntz in her request to demolish her former home on South Olympia Street.
The house, which was never cleaned or gutted after Hurricane Katrina, had also racked up over $15,000 in Code Enforcement liens.
Kuntz, now a resident of Birmingham, said she could not afford to clean or renovate the shotgun home. The cost of gutting it would be over $20,000, she claimed.
The committee voted 7-to-1 to approve the demolition, with Historic District Landmarks representative Lily McNee opposed.
Another two houses on General Taylor Street were on the demolition docket at their owners’ request.
A church is planned at the site and the demolition of the two adjacent homes would provide additional parking.
Rev. Moses Gordon pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist has submitted plans for the new facility.
The committee approved the demolition of one property, but deferred a decision on the other one until later in the month, to allow for discussion of the pastor’s plans.
Another high-profile structure in the Lower Garden District owned by Rev. Gordon recently burned to the ground in a spectacular overnight fire.
The church was not occupied or in use at the time of the fire.
With 20 items on the agenda the committee finished swiftly in 45 minutes, with 16 approvals, one denial, one withdrawal and two deferrals. Combining back taxes and fines for code violations, the properties were in arrears a total of $170,000. The largest accumulated debt — $31,000 — attached to a house on Louisiana Avenue Parkway, owned by John and Delores Thomas. The demolition was approved but the fines remain.
The Conservation Committee, which normally meets in the City Council chamber gathered instead in the Homeland Security conference room upstairs.
Members of the committee were anxious to finish up promptly and flee to their cars before Sugar Bowl traffic gridlocked the Superdome area.
City Hall closed at 3 p.m. Tuesday.