With a art deco office add-on, the mansion was turned to rubble in 2006. Photo by Gardbois.

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.

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.