Squandered Heritage Vintage

Renegade Demolitions On Palmyra Street

None of these houses pictured below had a demolition permit; they only had “repair” permits. All the houses had damage estimates of fewer than 40 percent; most had damage estimates below thirty percent.

If “repairing” a house means removing 95 percent of it, I must be seriously missing something. Well, besides me, someone at City Hall is definitely missing something. A concerned neighbor called Safety and Permits after one house was in the process of “repair” and no one ever showed up to inspect the “repair”. Well, after that, about 5 more houses were “repaired” and a city inspector never came out.

I sent out an email to several people and I called Nelson Savoie, the Chairman of the Housing Conservation District Review Committee, in Safety and Permits at City Hall. These houses are in his jurisdiction. Nelson told me to call Johnny Odom, the Department Head at Safety and Permits, whom I missed on the phone several times over a certain period of days.

On Monday, I finally got in touch with Johnny Odom on the phone and he sounded quite annoyed that I was calling to report the demolitions; he told me they are “working” on it.

I looked up the owner and permit information and on the Orleans Parish Tax Assessors website and velocityhall.com and two people: Ray Verges and Adam Irving seem connected one way or another to all the houses. I, again, stress that I am not 100 percent sure who is truly responsible for this whole mess. Whoever is responsible for these illegal demolitions, under the enforcement of the code, should be fined.

2119-21 Palmyra Street ( This has new beams on it, the old house is 95 percent gone)
2119-21 Palmyra Street

2115 Palmyra Street (This house has more new beams and wood panels added to it, the old house is 95 percent gone. )
2115 Palmyra Street

2113 Palmyra Street (This house is mostly gone.)
2113 Palmyra Street

2109-11 Palmyra Street (This is just a shell of a front wall.)
2109-11 Palmyra Street

2105 Palmyra Street (This House looks is now only a front wall shell, its now 95 percent gone.)
2105 Palmyra Street

220-22 S Jhonson Street (This House originally had one story, another story has been added to it.It is the most completed of all the houses; all new beams, the old structure is 95 percent gone.)
220-22 South Johnson Street

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  • Beth

    Another example of the fine workings of City Hall! Why do they bother to have these rules when they don’t enforce them? This looks to be some cheap construction in order to make a fast buck when LSU buys the properties for the new hospital.

    Good job, Randall!

  • that is just flat out wrong


    You said it. they had a repair permit>> these houses hadn’t had any maintenance for 40 years, no termite treatment,paint, windows, plumbing, (do you see the picture). much less roofing and flooring refinish. Jesus, Mary and Joseph; these people are doing the best you could expect to be done and keep the front , street-scape the same….. Some of this neighborhood will be wiped clean in the next few months for the hospital {that we need.} Concentrate on that….


    Randal, go look at 950 or so Felicity st. this was the same type of job. I did the removal, not demo…leaving the front wall. then the whole building was rebuilt , about 98%. then they replaced everything in the front wall.. looks just like it did in 1835 when it was built. wanna go inside and see the improvement. The owner couldn’t sell it because of no parking and market conditions so he is living there. wana go see????? This is the way to do it,not on the cheap, and not by leaving all the rotten boards to be repalced later. “get-er=done” and nicely. He won the award from hdlc!!!


    Beth: It seems that maybe the best way to preserve our city is to rebuild properly those houses that can be rebuilt. The only thing I question is why would anyone build in this neighborhood subject to imminent domain?

  • Beth

    I disagree with you, Willie. These houses could have been repaired properly had the owner(s) wanted to. While they had been neglected over the years they were far from being beyond hope.
    The point of this whole thing, though, is that this work is being done without proper permits, and probably with proper inspections too. If this was a local historic district, they would have been stopped right away. But HCDRC does not really care about preservation so these people and others like them are free to flaunt the laws.

  • Dianne

    Deferred maintenence. Demolition by neglect. The fact is that there are not enough inspectors and “building police” to make sure that people do what is right. Unscrupulous property owners have been squeezing the lifeblood out of their properties without putting anything back in since the beginning of time. The age-old “don’t complain and I won’t raise the rent” still flourishes. Rental space Post-K is at a premium. 1.) Bravo to the builders on Palmyra St. for having the guts to rebuild in that area. True, the proper permits should have been secured. But they could have just covered up termite damage, plumbing and electrical shortfalls, etc., and chose to do the right thing by replacing everything, but saving the facade.
    2.) Why do the well- built public housing structures stand, boarded up? The fact is that low income people need housing. The Feds could have sponsored a Public Works Project to renovate the interiors of the housing units downtown, and the residents could have been in them by now. Are the existing below- standard rental houses in that area better?

  • Laureen

    I went to City Hall yesterday to find out what was happening with the Construction on Palmyra and why it was stopped by the inspector. Inspector McDonald was the one that put the stop order up. He said that the permit that the construction was under was Remodeling rather than new construction. When a building is demolished over 50% then it must get a new construction permit. Thus the construction had to stop because of that. To start again the owner must go and get the proper permit.

  • Beth

    Thanks for the info, Laureen. We noticed a few days ago that they had finally posted stop work orders. I just wonder what took them so long, when it was reported to Safety and Permits when the first one was demolished.

  • Justin

    At first I agreed with Beth and figured this was definitely an effort to build as cheaply as possible to make some money when they are bought by LSU. But note in the third picture the wood being used to build the porch on the building on the left is pressure treated (note that the wood is a different color than the other studs). If they were truly building on the cheap they would not have bothered with this.