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City Council Roundup: La Habana Hemingway, Children's Hospital, Tulane, Demos

By Lucy Leonard

At Thursday’s (6.4) City Council meeting, the council voted on a few important matters ranging from cigar bars to the demolition of certain buildings by both Children’s Hospital and Tulane University. 


Special orders of the meeting included recognizing the Gentilly Festival, which presented grants to first responders at yesterday’s meeting. There was also a presentation by GRoW on the Go, a mobile nutrition and recreation organization that caters to New Orleans’ youth. The organization recently received multiple grants to put toward school transportation safety. They also hope to soon enact the GRoW Smartcard, which will be a coordinated youth transit card for children ages twelve to eighteen. The card would function as a student ID, a transit card, a library card and more. 


VIA LINK 2-1-1 was also present to announce the upcoming soft launch of their new program “Y Texting.” VIA LINK provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotlines. They help connect citizens to health and human services. “Y Texting” will provide these services, including mental health support, to youth via texting. 


La Habana Hemingway Cigar Bar

Probably the most hot-button issue at yesterday’s meeting was the debate about the definition of cigar bar in New Orleans. In the newest installment of this on-going dispute, the City Council voted to approve a new definition of “cigar bar,” despite the City Planning Commission’s recommendation for denial. The new definition will state that a cigar bar’s sale of cigars and cigar-related products must consist of 35% or more of its business, 25% or more of the bar’s space must be used to display cigars or cigar-related products, a minimum of five thousand dollars worth of cigars or cigar-related products must be on premise for retail sale, and there must be a minimum of 20 humidor lockers for the use of customers. Food and alcohol sales are permitted, but there cannot be cigarettes, live entertainment or gambling. This allowed for the City Council to also approve the Conditional Use in the VCC-2 Vieux Carré Commercial District allowing La Habana Hemingway to become a cigar bar. 


Children’s Hospital 

The council also approved the demolition of certain buildings at 210 State Street for the expansion of Children’s Hospital. In the location of the old New Orleans Adolescent Hospital, the hospital will raze some of the structures. They will, however, also seek to refurbish those buildings with historical significance. 


Mixed-Use Planned Community

Next, the council approved the request for a Mixed-Use Planned Community overlay in the Third Municipal District in the location of the former Fry Meat Packing. The CPC also recommended approving this plan. It will include residential units, schools, churches and commercial retail. Both the CPC and the City Council believe that the addition of this community will have a positive impact on its neighborhood. 


Tulane University

Towards the end of the meeting, the council discussed the proposed demolition of the Tulane University Dean’s home at 6823 St. Charles Ave. Councilwoman Susan Guidry originally did not support this demolition, but after extensive discussion with Tulane about how the university could conserve or even relocate the house, she was persuaded that demolition was the only option. The council approved the motion. Tulane will use the site to build a $50 million facility called The Commons. The Commons will feature a new dining hall and new facilities for the Newcomb College Institute including classroom and meeting space.

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