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Lot or Not
Neighborhood Groups, Habitat for Humanity Weigh Options for Bywater Lot
The lot that sits across from the Bywater barbeque spot, The Joint, is currently an unoccupied area, but may not be for long.
An apartment complex that once inhabited the spot, owned by the New Orleans Housing Authority, was torn down about 10-15 years ago. One corner is occupied by an undeveloped two-story apartment building.
John Andrews, the Vice President of Neighbors First for Bywater, said before Katrina, HANO had plans to build two-family double houses, with a variation of camelbacks and one-bedroom properties. The neighborhood was mostly in favor of the development, as the density level for those plans were more fitting to the neighborhood, said Andrews.
The HANO site in question, which is a green space, is encircled by Chartres, Royal, Mazant and France streets. Habitat for Humanity was granted a request for proposal, and they say that they have every intention of buying the property. Their proposed bid was $1.8 million.
The City Planning Commission is allowing them to plan for high-rise construction up to 75 feet on the Chartres side of the development; however, the upzoning won’t just affect the HANO site-it may extend along the entire riverfront section of the Bywater.
The current zoning in the Bywater is an RD-3, which stands for a two-family residential district. The current height limit is 50 ft. The NFB wants the new zoning to respect the 50-foot height limit that has been cemented for non-industrial properties since the 1970s.
Andrews said there is not much buildable land left in the neighborhood, and many residents are opposed to any “upzoning.”
“We don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes Habitat’s redevelopment for the property or their moving forward with this process,” said Andrews.
Purchasing Director for New Orleans' Habitat for Humanity, Mitchell Danese, said the organization's current proposal is two stories high. The plans call for mixed-income development, with 62 units. Two units would be used for retail, 21 for affordable housing, and the remaining would be market rate housing units.
"Right now as it stand with the proposal that we are awarded, once the CZO gets adopted, there’s no variances in this project," said Danese. "We’re still meeting with the neighborhood groups and getting their feedback. They’ve expressed [the desire for] more green space, and trying to save the trees that are there. We’re looking into the feasibility of those requests," said Danese.
Andrews is not optimistic. “If there is a way to keep that green space, we are all for it, but realistically, I don’t think that will happen because there is so much money on the table,” he said.
NFB’s first draft for the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance called for low-density development.
Co chair of the Bywater Neighborhood Association, Mary Ann Hammett, said the BNA is optimistic about Habitat's use for the space. “We are delighted that the site will be developed. We certainly like the mixed use and mixed aspect of it. And we think that Habitat will do a great job," she said.
If all goes according to plan, Danese said that the timeline on the property's development is 2-3 years.
The property is made up of four lots. The City Planning Commission suggested HMC-2 zoning for all four, which allows for commercial use while protecting the historic character of the area. An alternative presented by the NFB is to have two lots changed to HMC-2 and the remaining two lots be changed to residential zoning.
April 22, 10:10 a.m.: The original photo attached to the article has been removed.
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