Land Use
 

Because of Winn-Dixie: City lets grocery add vehicle crossing over pedestrian greenway

Click to enlarge. The city has agreed to let Winn-Dixie cross the proposed Lafitte Greenway in one direction, from the mail lot into the satellite lot, despite objections from greenway supporters. Map courtesy of Google Maps.

 

By Ariella Cohen and Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writers |

Over the objections of Lafitte Greenway advocates, Mayor Mitch Landrieu has granted Winn-Dixie permission to cut a short roadway across the long-planned bike and pedestrian path so the grocery store can connect with a satellite parking lot.

Cars will be able to cross the greenway between North Carrollton Avenue and David Street, to reach a new Winn-Dixie lot behind Massey’s Outfitters. The grocer needs the off-site parking lot to meet city requirements.

Greenway supporters want as few breaks in the Treme-to-City-Park path as possible, which already will be interrupted by several major thoroughfares.

The connection was a non-negotiable issue for the project’s Covington-based developer, Stirling Properties. Nearby competitor, Rouses Supermarket, located directly across North Carrollton Avenue, has three entrances to its parking lot.

“If you come into the main entrance of the center and there is no available parking and you can’t get to the other parking lot, you create traffic in the neighborhood and lose shoppers,” said Townsend Underhill, vice-president of development for Stirling.  “We would not be able to do the project without the crossing.”

Click here for a sizeable pdf showing the plans for the site.

Winn-Dixie’s hardball stance apparently had an effect on the mayor. On Monday, Landrieu called the outgoing president of the Friends of Lafitte Corridor, Bart Everson.

“I was taken aback the mayor would call me,” Everson said. “For me, that was an indication that the mayor understood this was a hot-button issue and that he felt the stakes were high.”

“The community was heard,” Everson said. “We just didn’t get our way.”

Urban planners and open-space advocates frown on crossings such as this one because of the obvious dangers created when car traffic is introduced to a recreational area designated for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Connecting “two high-traffic parking lots on either side of the greenway [effectively] creates a new roadway over the greenway, introducing safety hazards for walkers, joggers and cyclists,” Rachel Heilgman, executive director for Transport for Nola.

The greenway spans three miles between Lakeview and Treme, crossing busy intersections at Carrollton Avenue, Jefferson Davis Parkway, Broad Street, Galvez Street and Claiborne Avenue. The Winn-Dixie right-of-way, however, is the first crossing to be created along the route. The move frightens advocates who say it could set a “dangerous precedent” for development along the trail.

“People feel really strongly that there should be no extra crossings, so it’s disappointing and disconcerting to see one being created,” Everson said. “We are extremely concerned.”

Greenway planners aren’t the only ones concerned. In an email to The Lens, City Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who represents the area, emphasized that the crossing is a concession she does not hope to give again.

“This limited crossing is a negotiated exception to what will be a guiding principle that no new crossings be permitted,” Guidry said.

The greenway long has been discussed as an asset that will bring new development to the neighborhoods it passes through. In other cities, such as New York and even Covington, greenways have become popular tourist destinations as well as draws for bicycle commuters and recreational cyclists. That economic benefit can’t be ignored, Landrieu said in a statement issued to The Lens.

“The commercial redevelopment of the corner of South Carrollton and Bienville, including the old Bohn Ford site, is critical for the continued revitalization of that important Mid City corridor,” he said.

 

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  • jeffrey

    I gather this is something the Mayor’s office was able to approve on its own, or was there a process involving Council approval as well?

  • Peter Bennett

    Yes, the developer insisted it was non-negotiable, but that was in the context of the existing city parking standards. Why can’t the city reduce those standards, eliminating the need for a satellite lot? This is an innovative approach taken in many areas striving for urbanism (as these site plans attempt), and is consistent with trail-oriented development elsewhere.

    This grocery is heavily set back and surrounded by an apron of parking. The design should do more to engage the streetcar and trail that border the site.

    I hope the design of this crossing includes the most stringent traffic calming measures for the auto traffic, including a raised crossing and zero deflection for the trail. A sign is not going to cut it.

  • andre

    I wonder if Stirling Properties tossed a few hundred thousand in cash at Landrieu during the negotiations.

  • NolaJ

    Neighborhoods Design Review Committee recommended AGAINST. Mayor interfered with the process and the developer assumed they could get away with hardball. They, the developers, win when we let them. They, the developers, wanted to be in this spot and could have used the parking lot for employees who would have readily walked across the greenway. We, the citizens of New Orleans, get what we permit and since Katrina we’ve learned that we deserve better. Too bad Mitch was so busy in Baton Rouge that he let his ego mess things up.

  • lafitterider

    The Rouses has only two vehicle entrances. And the original Sav-a-Center had to tear down movie Pitchers for satellite parking, although it appears to be used only by employees and neighboring businesses (unconfirmed). I agree that the City could have (and may have) not required the extra parking (as might have been the case for Sav-A-Center) and that the developer simply feels he needs the parking.Bummer this happened, but at the same time there is another major vehicle crossing of the Greenway about 100 feet away…(Bad precedence, but most likely not all that detrimental).

  • C Ross

    There’s is a linear park being created from Treme to City Park that will have one or two vehicle crossings. There’s a vehicle crossing in Audubon Park. Vehicles ride through Lafreniere. The lakefront shares the road with bikers and cars. Some of the more positive forward thinking folks in the area have been involved in this project, but it seems not even this crowd can see the positive over the negative:

    There’s a linear park cutting through the city from Downtown to Mid City that will be slightly handicapped by the creation of a new grocery store. Unless Winn Dixie is selling shards of glass to children I’m having a difficult time being overly upset with this development.

  • C Ross

    Should have read:

    There’s a linear park being created from Treme…

    My english teachers weep.

  • http://greenlightglobalresearch.com Rachel Dangermond

    And more to the point – there is a Rouses so we need a Winn Dixie why? Enough to erode the integrity of the Lafitte Corridor Greenway. Bad plan. Boo.

  • michaeltmartin

    I agree with Peter. The issue discussed in this article is indicative of the larger problem: that Winn Dixie is a suburban development in the heart of relatively dense urbanism. The city should be working to revise it’s parking minimum’s placed on every development and should have encouraged (in this case, specifically) more interplay with the street/streetcar.

  • Uptown John

    I wish a deal could be struck with the neighbors on the Winn-Dixie side of the development to share parking lots instead of needing to cut across the Greenway. Is it too late to change the developers minds??

  • Blitz

    If I were the developer, I’d ditch the parking lot across the greenway, and build parking on top of the Winn-Dixie. That would give them 3x the number of spaces, and save a lot of heartache when some biker gets killed by a car crossing the parking lots under the existing plan.

    Also, they’ll be happy they have the extra space when Mardi Gras comes around. They could even charge for it.

  • chiefwiggum

    Are you serious with that title?

    Because of Winn-Dixie: New Orleans now has a $30 million investment in a piece of blight.

    Get over it, or get used to looking at an abandoned car dealership for the next decade.

  • johnnynola

    why not make the satellite entrance off Toulouse for cars and a pedestrian walkway across the park portion. Employees should be required to use the satellite lot to cut down on traffic. The park is going to make a nice walkway for those carts to disappear north and south. I for one am goiing to boycott Winn-Dixie for this. New Orleanians deal with parking issues everyday. Want more parking..? cut down on the satelitte businesses you want to put there.

  • http://annoyingfatherisannoying.tumblr.com/ Tim Ruppert

    Bad decision. No assurance whatsoever that this is a one-time deviation. In fact, this one deviation from the intent of the Lafitte Greenway now serves as the justification for all future requests for vehicular crossings. Not only that, the current site is already a huge parking lot, now we’re going to spread the parking lot across Lafitte and into the adjacent neighborhood? Nuts. Bad call.

    Peace,

    Tim

  • H Street Landlord

    I agree with decreasing or getting rid of the parking minimums. In this site especially I think a lot of people will walk or take the streetcar to the grocery.

  • habeille

    l’etat, c’est mitch

  • Frank

    The draft of the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance seriously decreases the number of parking spots required for new development. Those advocating reduced parking minimums should push for the new CZO to retain what’s already in the very progressive draft document. For instance, there will be no off-street parking required for new development in the city’s historic core – a huge change from now, where something new on Magazine Street is still required to have the same number of parking spaces as if it were located in (suburban-style) New Orleans East. Parking for bikes will also be mandated in all new development.

  • Mid_City_Baby

    There’s plenty of parking on the former Lindy Boggs site, including a pre-existing parking garage. Shame they couldn’t do this development over…oh, right…they tried.

  • http://noitsjustme.blogspot.com E.J.

    It’s not like it’s going to be a pleasure for drivers either, having to negotiate a pedestrian crossing to find parking. And it’s going to only be one-way opening. Plus, people will have a grocery store they can easily walk or bike or skate to. So, sounds like a decent compromise to me.

  • http://nolamanblog.wordpress.com NOLAManBlog

    I have yet to find an answer to justify families needing to make groceries by walking. My best argument was if a person lives nearby the grocery, he or she does not need to make a large amount of groceries since they can always return stress-free. Can someone provide me an answer?

  • William

    Why expand over the greenway to the right instead of simply expanding to the left where an abandoned strip mall currently sits? It will eventually be developed into additional parking. It must have been cheaper to buy on the other side of the tracks.

    This is clearly about dollars, not sense.

  • freshair

    Good Lord! When the Greenway is even being started, THEN the City can tell Winn-Dixie how many crossings it can have. The Greenway is a pie-in-the-sky idea that isn’t even near getting done.