Land Use

Rock 'n' Bowl owner gets permission to demolish pair of houses for parking lots

By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |

Rock ‘n’ Bowl owner John Blancher won city approval this week to tear down two apartment duplexes adjacent to the New Orleans bowling alley and night club, with plans to use the space for parking.

Six New Orleans City Council members voted unanimously to overrule the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee decision to deny the demolition.  Councilmember Stacy Head was not at the meeting.

Blancher bought the two buildings, 8125 and 8129 Fig Street, in the past year. The city assessor’s website values the combined properties at just more than $385,000.

These two Fig Street buildings, at the corner of Dublin Street, can now be demolished, the City Council decided Thursday.

Like dozens of other businesses in the city, Rock ‘n’ Bowl has been operating without an occupational license. All businesses need such a permit from the city’s Revenue Department, though many get only a temporary permit while they work to meet conditions set by the city during zoning and other permit procedures.

But the city refused to continue to grant even temporary permits in September, saying Blancher had not made any progress toward meeting a number of conditions that the city laid out, including landscaping, tree planting and signage as well as other specifics laid out in the original site plan.

Last month, city spokesman Ryan Berni said the occupational license issue with Rock ‘n’ Bowl would be resolved sooner than later but as of today the resolution has not been forthcoming.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry, whose district includes this neighborhood, opened the public hearing with a motion to overrule the decision and then opened the floor for public comment.

Blancher said he wants to provide more parking for his patrons and the neighborhood, calling his businesses “not just good neighbors, but great neighbors.”

The Northwest Carrolton Civic Association had voiced opposition to the demolition earlier in the process, but no representative addressed the council. Blancher suggested he would initiate a lawsuit against the board if a board member spoke against him.

Guidry acknowledged the neighborhood opposition but said that parking lots fit the present and future zoning requirements of the parcel. With that, the council approved the demolitions.

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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.

  • Nagendra

    It is remarkable that the city generally does not permit businesses to operate without an occupancy license. However, John B does so without impunity but with immunity from the city. This is outrageous. Other non-profits along Carrollton, who are my clients, have had to file for temporary occupancy certificates and show progress and compliance prior to receiving full permits. John B is a for profit entity. This is a slap in the face for the non-profit world and is certainly does not show fair play or level playing field by the politicians.