Squandered Heritage Related schools coverage »

After buying only two houses on block, Lusher seeks permission to tear them down

These 2  properties located on Jeanette Street could be demolished to make room for temporary classrooms for Lusher Charter School.

Karen Gadbois / The Lens

These 2 properties located on Jeanette Street could be demolished to make room for temporary classrooms for Lusher Charter School.

Lusher Charter School is seeking permission to demolish two houses adjacent to its elementary school campus to make room for temporary classrooms.

The large, two-story houses are on Jeannette Street, at the rear of the school, which fronts on Willow Street.

In a letter to the city, CEO Kathleen Riedlinger says the school bought the properties with the intent to “remove the houses to provide suitable space to place temporary classrooms” while the Orleans Parish School Board makes repairs to the main building.

Riedlinger also said that the temporary classrooms will “facilitate temporary growth in enrollments.”

The request for demolition will be heard at the May 5 meeting of the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee.

Help us report this story     Report an error    
The Lens' donors and partners may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover.
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.

  • nickelndime

    LUSHER: Buys two houses and “asks permission” to demolish?!!!
    Are U #$#**&###$$$$ kiddin’ me? This CITY is absolutely out of control. Years ago, Kathy Hurstell Riedlinger was NOT selected as the Head Mistress of Louise McGehee (independent) School in the Garden District. Word has it that Riedlinger, with a “K,” swore vengeance (in private, of course) against the establishment. However, this could only have played out as it has in New Orleans because this city is so damnd rotten, and it is below sea level, which I have heard affects sensibilities and rationality. If you look at what is going on in this city (below the sea), you must admit that, unless you know the history, it appears to be unexplainable and unrelated! But it’s related, Karen.

  • Drew Ward

    Why can’t they just use the rooms within the houses as temporary classrooms?

    If they were seeking demolition for construction of a permanent structure it would be one thing, but they’re wanting to take away from the historic fabric of the neighbourhood just to replace these structures with trashy little temporary buildings.

    The request should be denied.

  • nickelndime

    Well yeah, Drew Ward! LUSHER COULD use the rooms within the houses as temporary classrooms without destroying the historic fabric of the neighborhood, but that would mean that the PRIMARY motive of the CEO/Riedlinger would be put on a backburner (please take another look at my post). But thanks for pointing out the options. Unfortunately, we are dealing with personal (well-funded) motives that are masquerading under the guise of good intentions in public education.

  • KnowsWhatsUp

    Before Lusher considered demolishing the houses, they did have professionals walk through the properties to explore how they might be used for classrooms, However, the houses could not be so used because they were built under old residential fire codes, not current codes for new classroom use. They failed to meet fire codes for school corridors, construction materials, access & egress; handicapped access codes (two story); and sanitation codes for restrooms – among other codes. The portable classrooms will only be temporary during the renovations to the main school building and they will be removed. This is being done at other OPSB and RSD schools all over town. The continued success of Lusher School is a key component of preserving and enhancing the historic fabric of the neighborhood – much more so than the two rental properties.

  • AJ

    What other schools in the OPSB and RSD have demolished viable homes to house temporary structures during school renovation? What a wasteful proposition. I live in the neighborhood and am completely opposed to this. The need for homes in the area is exponential. I urge people to carefully think this through and speak strongly against it. These homes are both doubles and can house multiple families or students for decades post school renovations.

  • nickelndime

    LUSHER: Hear! Hear! Well said, AJ. This is all about money (public money, millions and billions of public education money) that is being siphoned off by the greedy hands of charter CEOs and the nonprofits (COWEN Institute, New Schools for New Orleans, etc.) that feed off of their byproducts. They do not care about the fabric of any neighborhood, except in consideration of their own enhancement. Their motives are financial, not educational. If a pharmacy chain, such as CVS, wanted to demolish and build a brown box on the property, would this be acceptable? What LUSHER wants to do is no better? They are using children to further their personal cause – and it’s not in the best interests of public education.

  • nickelndime

    LUSHER: What happens when the “Powers That Be” decide they want YOUR BLOCK? Your HOUSE? Hm-m-m-m?!

  • jltnol

    Sadly, I can see theses two houses from my front porch. i was here when they tore done other houses on the same block to build the new Arts Center. If Lusher needs a place to house temp classrooms…. I see LOTS of temp spaces there already… they don’t need all that playground, especially in the back of the building. This will only lead to MORE kids, and MORE cars, and MORE traffic. And while I have no doubt the houses don’t meed any codes for classrooms, they all COULD be remodeled and brought up to code. Tear down the houses to put up temp buildings? What happens after those buildings aren’t needed? Why don’t you build a parking garage…. that’s something that would be VERY helpful…

  • nickelndime

    LU$HER BUY$ AND EAT$ CITY REAL ESTATE: Unfortunately, the two houses that can be seen from jltnol’s front porch will no longer be able to be seen much longer. When CEO Riedlinger says something has to go, it must – – – GO! Imagine what Riedlinger could do with blighted property in this city – o, that’s right – what was I thinking! What good is blighted property in the LUSHER expansion plan!? There is no challenge in THAT! Wonder what Riedlinger does for amusement in her spare time! Pull doors off of neighboring houses? Trample on flower beds? Pull down mailboxes? Riedlinger’s got three campuses and three administrators, who have administrators, who have administrators, who have…(the teachers). Well, let’s just say that Kathleen (d/b/a “Kathy”) doesn’t have to do the dirty work herself, but word has it that Kathy has a lot of pent up energy (so much money and so little time) and vengeance in her system, and by golly, she is going to get a lot of pleasure watching them tear those two houses apart, piece by piece (tongue in cheek, but still rolling on the floor).

  • Melinda Alfonso

    Does everyone know that they are putting up modular trailers on the site. I can’t believe this is happening on Jeanette Street.

  • nickelndime

    Watch out, Neighbor! Riedlinger and Company might decide they want your home next. And you might not want to let them catch you looking around those trailers.

  • Lee Barrios

    I can’t buy this explanation having worked myself in “temporary” and NOT temporary modular classrooms that were rehabbed only enough to nail a heater up in the corner and stick an air conditioner in the window. Are you telling me that all the other RSD schools/classrooms are and have met some kind of fire or other codes? I hope they don’t get permission (but somehow I know they will.)

  • KnowsWhatsUp

    (1) The property acquisition was not to put portables. It was to expand an undersized campus and bring it into compliance with local zoning which says an elementary school campus less than 2 acres is supposed to be at least a complete square. The use of the space for modulars for a couple of years is just to take advantage of the space to house students while the renovation is finally being done.
    (2) Laws and policies have greatly changed since the old portables/temporary/modulars were installed on other campuses in the 1950s and 1960s. Now, the codes and policies require that modulars be temporary but meet the same codes as permanent new buildings: fire codes, smoke detectors, foundations, asbestos and lead-paint free, handicapped accessible, air-conditioned, etc. Under the zoning ordinance, any construction (or parking) that is left permanently on newly acquired property cannot be built unless it goes through the conditional use permit zoning process, which gives the community the opportunity to comment at public hearings.
    (3) Other RSD and OPSB modulars constructed since Katrina have met all of these codes, in some cases even having sprinkler systems. In the old days, the modulars still me the codes of the day, but codes have changed in the last 50 years very greatly. Since Katrina, RSD built 10 complete modular school campuses, although some have been dismantled. OPSB built at least one.

  • Lee Barrios

    Seriously? Codes have changed in the last 50 years? You don’t use your name for obvious reasons but my guess is you surely haven’t been here for those 50. Dream on.

  • nickelndime

    LUSHER: So, what I am hearing is that the “professionals” employed by the Lusher Board, did the walk-thru (assessment of the properties, classroom suitability, codes) AFTER the properties were purchased!?! Unless the outcome was pre-determined (DEMOLISH), wouldn’t/shouldn’t the assessment have occurred before the decision to purchase? Please stop. This is insulting!

  • nickelndime

    The only way that other RSD/OPSB modulars/campuses have met/exceeded/passed code inspections is to hire the right person/firm, and that person would be: KEN DUCOTE. Ken is iconic, formerly employed by the OPSB (need I add more to his background?). Ken is a beacon in the storm. He rids campuses of mold, and if if isn’t rid of mold, by golly, the report will say so. And, that’s good enough. Right?

  • scotchirish

    I think the charter school movement is a scam, but can’t get worked up over demolishing two eyesore firetraps. You can’t preserve everything forever.