By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |

A substantial group of Uptown property owners attended today’s City Council meeting to address a proposal to tear down an 80-year-old house on St. Charles Avenue.

Jeffery Goldring was seeking permission to demolish a 1928 Emile Weil-designed triplex.

The owner was seeking to tear down this house at 5428 St. Charles Avenue. Photo by Karen Gadbois

The applicant’s father, William Goldring, in 2007 wanted to demolish the structure to build a five-story, 13-unit condo building.

Like today, neighbors then came out in force to a community meeting. They strongly objected to the proposal, and William Goldring’s effort was stopped before it even got to the council, with a rejection by the City Planning Commission

Today, most in the crowd supported the demolition, in part likely because the proposal was for a two-story, single-family structure.

Speaking on behalf of his client, attorney Randy Opotowsky called the process “a model for how to vet out and approve a demolition.”

Opotowsky is also the treasurer of the Preservation Resource Center. No one from the Preservation Resource Center spoke in opposition to or support of the demolition.

Opotowsky talked about a “costly agreement” crafted between the neighbors and the Goldrings.

At least one neighbor, Barry Grodsky, an adjacent property owner, said the agreement created between the Goldrings and the St. Charles Avenue Association excluded him and that he had been unable to view the draft document.

Grodsky was also critical of the St. Charles Avenue Association, formed in 1973 specifically in response to demolitions on St. Charles Avenue.

Justin Schmidt spoke on behalf of the organization in support of the request, suggesting that the mission of the organization has been more recently focused on the preservation of the oaks that line the avenue.

Another neighbor, Helena Henderson also expressed dismay at the association’s stance and suggested it was contrary to the mission of the organization.

Henderson went on to say that she considered the council to be “stewards of the city” and implored them to deny the request.

The carriage house will be rebuilt.

But Councilwoman Susan Guidry, in whose district the house is located, said she toured the home and “the talent of the original architect” was not evident in the house, saying she saw nothing there to preserve.

Guidry went on to list the conditions for demolition, including the 24-month storage period for the deconstructed carriage house on the property, as well as the agreement that the house will only be a single-family dwelling.

Goldring has promised $60,000 to reconstruct and renovate the carriage house.

Councilmember Stacy Head, who normally is a strong advocate for preservation, said the new building is more appropriate for St. Charles and that the new construction will make the avenue “more beautiful.”

The six council members present voted unanimously for the demolition. Council President Jackie Clarkson was absent.

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...