Government & Politics

Martin Wine Cellar wants to demolish Uptown buildings

Martin Wine Cellar is asking the city for permission to demolish its old Uptown location on Baronne Street, along with five nearby structures.

The Neighborhood Conservation District Committee will consider the demolition applications at its Feb. 1 meeting and  make a recommendation to the city’s Safety and Permits Department.

The request includes, four corner properties, one of which was the original New Orleans Bicycle Club.  A worn and broken plaque in the sidewalk commemorates both the club and the building, which was built in 1891.

The club, now in Covington, no longer owns the structure; its last known use was as a storehouse for Martin Wine Cellar.

The applications represent 6 structures with more than 16 municipal addresses.

Reached by phone, Martin Wine Cellar  spokeswoman Yolanda Williamson declined to comment on the demolition application or plans for a cleared site. No redevelopment plan is on file with the city.

Here’s a set of photographs from the affected area.

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About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois co-founded The Lens. She now covers New Orleans government issues and writes about land use. With television reporter Lee Zurik she exposed widespread misuse of city recovery funds and led to guilty pleas in federal court. Her work attracted some of journalism's highest honors, including a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and a gold medal from Investigative Reporters and Editors. She can be reached at (504) 606-6013.

  • So other than the fact that a bike club once met here (and that seems minor), do these buildings have any value? They look blighted and of little architectural emphasis.

    If this means that Martin is returning, then I don’t see how this is a negative for the neighborhood.

  • I meant “architectural interest.” Sorry.

  • Nathan Chapman

    Very disappointing.

  • I’m mare than a little ignorant in this game, but is it so much to ask that a Developer seeking Demolition (especially such a large application) provide Plans for the Property Development Post-Demo?
    Like for example, “We want to tear down 16 addresses here because we want to do more with it, improve it more like (whatever plans they are not providing)”.
    Again, you’re the expert here so I await your follow-up.

    As for whether it is better or not remains to be seen. Martin Wine Cellar is not saying they are “returning”. What’s to say Martin Wine Cellar isn’t going to simply Flip these properties for a better investment in a better location? That would make better business sense to me just on the face of this story.
    But do we want to enrich and patronize that kind of Rip’n’Git Demo-Capitalism?
    It is disappointing that Martin WC has chosen to remain silent on this.
    Martin WC really needs to understand the role of a Spokesperson here –since I can and will go get my wine anywhere else in seconds of no thought until they come clean about what they plan to do.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  • Karen Gadbois


    The application for demolition requires that the applicant bring redevelopment plans. Editilla makes that point in his comments.

    As to your comment that the structures are blighted, the owner of the structures created the blight. And have a responsibility to maintain them or face fines from code enforcement.

  • heather elizabeth

    Wow. Don’t know that I will buy from Martin’s anymore if this happens…very sad.

  • Thanks, Karen. Got it now. It wasn’t clear from the original post what the issue was.

  • Francine

    Karen. Thanks for posting this. As a 10 year neighbor and 20 year client of MWC I am quite disgusted that they would choose to remove so many properties from our neighborhood. I’ve always loved the Bicycle Club Building. Hoped MWC would renovate it perhaps as the deli portion of their empire. That block of Baronne between G. Taylor and Constantinople is a rare example of intact commercial/residential structures in the neighborhood. We have had much revitalization post-K. I encourage MWC to come back. We’ve been waiting five years for our oh so fabulous corner store to return. But I really struggle with this loss of the urban landscape. They want to obliterate three corners? For what, parking? We need to see a plan.

  • Ah, it has been a long day of hard work. I just made it through the Presidents first State of the Union speech and he made it the whole way without saying Katrina did it. Whew! Of course he didn’t say anything about New Orleans, Louisiana or our Glorious Saints for whom he is allegedly routing, but hey it was a honker and I’m ready for some more wine.
    To Vino or Not To Vino is Not the Question here but To Where shall we go and get it?
    Alas, since we have heard NOTHING back from Martin Wine Cellars as to WTF, they have removed themselves from this complicated algebra. Not going there, but I do plan to call them and tell them where we do go now to get our wine –and perhaps tell them how much we paid for it. I’m not saying stick it to them. I’m saying rub their faces in it.
    Of course you all can “do what you wanna.”
    Such is the dark irony of such good journalism that we are shown how much we don’t know by reporting on what is actually happening thank you very much. It is when we are shown Who is doing Who that we really should jump on it. Take away what little money we can that enables their dysfunctional behavior. Make them do Time Out. That’s all I’m saying.
    Boycott these heathens until they come back to civilization.
    Right, Editilla needs more wine. Riiiight.