Land Use

… and put in a parking lot: Mansion gives way to yet more macadam


With its art deco office add-on, the old mansion was turned to rubble in 2006. Photo by Gadbois.

With owners claiming Katrina damage, this architecturally eclectic structure on Prytania Street near Touro Hospital was demolished on Thanksgiving Day 2006.

While people were basting turkeys or gussying up for a racetrack repast, bulldozers gassed up and tore into a lunch of timbers and cornices, a few blocks uptown of the Garden District.

The same lot today.

Weekends, holidays and after-business hours are a favorite time for demolition contractors to take down buildings, a strategy sometimes calculated to circumvent the review process.

In this instance, a demolition permit was in place, but the owners had eluded proper review of their plans by the Housing Conservation District Review Committee, now renamed the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee, which in Katrina’s aftermath held bi-weekly meetings to review a crush of demolition applications.

While the building slipped through the review process, it appears to have caught the eye of the zoning inspector. On May 16, a letter went out to the owner – Burgundy-Prytania LLC – requesting voluntary compliance with the city’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and citing the work done as a violation of city ordinances. Among the violations: “causing, allowing and or permitting the operation of a commercial parking lot without first obtaining a building permit and installing limestone rocks instead of concrete and asphalt.”

We’ll see what comes of that. This afternoon a crew set to work painting parking slips on the shiny new asphalt.

Meanwhile, the new pavement shimmers in the summer heat, another sea of tar in a city that already has an acute runoff problem.

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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.

  • debi

    Great article and again such heartbreaking news. Every time we do this our history depletes and we continue on the road to becoming some other city. I guess Ray Nagin was right after all. The “new” New Orleans. More payment, less trees and architecture, less places for the water to go when we need it to go somewhere besides inside our homes. Happy Hurricane Season.

  • AL

    We have got to STOP and start again on these types of losses…. almost every week we are hearing about another historic building that has been or is going to be lost. consolidation of the agencies could save money and put more inspectors on the streets. the enforcement and inspectors are more important that an office full of administrative personnell….