Flash: FMIA was going to host an NPP for a Hampton Inn at 501 Elysian, but they changed it to discussing a Neighborhood Benefit Agreement for The Red Haus. That tells us a couple of things. Looks like the deal has changed for 501. It may not be the good Elisio building or the blockhouse Monaghan building, just a chain hotel with a formula design. Hamptons are usually okay to stay in, but their outsides are usually gray boxes..
More interesting is that the Council or somebody is again trusting Marigny’s little nest of crumbummery with a racist edge to say they can take responsibility for an NBA, and the owners of The Red Haus, having seen how their prospective counter-party handled its contracted duties with Café Istanbul, is ready to sign with them. A mad little minuet.
Boring. From concept to execution, the project for the half block bordered by Chartres, Mazant and Royal was uninspiring. The building designs were as boring as a brick shoebox. The developer was a poor communicator unable to project a clear positive vision of what he wanted to do. One of the soundest reasons for opposition was that he gave the impression that he didn’t know what he was doing, presaging weak management.
The residential opponents were spitting angry, expressing their antipathy in embarrassing rudeness and witless insult. Like so many of our self-righteous residentialists, they inflated their antagonism into fake social rubbish about preserving the neighborhood, which required (as we so often see) inventing a false history of the immediate area.
The antis based their opposition on land use, even though it was permitted in the zoning, eventually focusing on noise as the big disqualifier. Both pro- and opponents said next to nothing about building design, despite the obvious and very good chance that the structure would outlive the business. The developer engaged David Woolworth, an extremely well qualified sound consultant with decades of experience, to deal with sound issues. He had come in late. By the City Planning hearing, he had had enough time to say that he could fix it, but not enough to have a complete sound design. Instead of respecting that, not only the objecting neighbors but the Commissioners seemed to believe a local amateur pretender to acoustic expertise, a guy with zero professional experience, who showed some charts to try to contradict Woolworth. “I’m not a scientist but . . . “
At some point it took on a name, Stateside, but the affair increasingly looked like some six year olds squabbling in a schoolyard. What was I doing here? The project looked like it deserved to fall over from incompetence.
Now I think we should take a side. Stateside’s. Kelso’s, the developer’s.
A big reason: he changed architects. StudioWTA took it on. I understand that Tracie Ashe took charge. Ms Ashe can communicate and design. The new look is not a great work of art, but that is probably the right decision. New Orleans residents are afraid of great design in building. The architects probably decided not to scare the fish. But Ms Ashe has ingeniously used pitched roofs and vertical lines so the masses and variation resonate with the surrounding traditional residential forms.
The developer could have gone for the MJL6 option, upgrade the design even more, launch the Riverfront Overlay. But this is probably not the developer for that investment (even though savvy builders suggest his cost estimates seem very high). But let’s not be greedy. The new design is good. Excellent. Well done, Tracie Ashe.
Another big reason: the opponents have doubled down on mendacity and ridiculous lines of non-reasoning meant to give some kind of sentence structure to their instinctive antagonism.
I have a message headed as from Julie Jones of NFB. Doctor Julie Jones. I generally expect anything from Ms Jones to be at least faintly ridiculous, but even in that environment, the first short sentence, “Time is ticking,” put me on high alert. To be fair, I have been told this language is not Ms Jones’s alone, so this piece of rhetorical kitsch may be the product of a team effort. We can imagine a meeting of the Indignati, fanning each other’s flames until a state of mutual high dudgeon is achieved. “Time is ticking.”
They are in synch with the American Zeitgeist. In politics and religion, most Americans base their decisions and actions on reinforcement not facts or real information. Why should downtown New Orleans be different?
Have a read first. Then we can pick it apart.
Sent: 5/9/2016 8:44:45 A.M. Central Daylight Time
Subj: NFB: Developers’ presentation tonight 6-8 at the site of the proposed hostel/party patio, 4019 Chartres
NEIGHBORS FIRST FOR BYWATER
Time is ticking. Come to the developer’s presentation tonight (Monday), 6-8pm, on site (4019 Chartres) to voice your concerns before the conditional use appeal to build out the Stateside entertainment complex/hostel is heard before City Council on May 19th.
The hostel alone, at the developers’ stated 75% occupancy goals, will overwhelm the block with 54,000 party tourists to the block each year. That’s 2,347 party tourists for each of the approximately 23 residents of adjacent homes!
Although the project has been reduced in overall footprint, the concerns of the expressed by City Planning Commissioners when they unanimously denied the conditional use are still valid.
In spite of the changes to the project
• size is still (>10,000 sq. ft.) 3 times that is allowed, in spite of the claims that it isn’t.
• 3 patios which total 5440 sq. ft and is twice the outdoor space of Bacchanal
• patios are open air which sends crowd noise, loudspeaker and live music into the air and
into the homes
• the new plans are preliminary, which can change, especially as it comes to sound attenuation
• the intensity and effect of party tourists on the historic character of the neighborhood brought on by the addition of 185 short-term bed rentals overpowering the neighborhood with 54,000 hostel guests/year plus destination bar patrons causing such a nuisance people will leave or turn their homes into short-term rentals, leaving Bywater as a neighborhood without neighbor’s.
54,000 “party tourists.” What is a party tourist? Why is a guest at Stateside automatically a Spring Breaker? Don’t give this rubbish brain space. It’s just a fantasy of residential reactionaries trying to work up that satisfying state of shared outrage.
54,000 seems to be the number of beds times an optimistic occupancy factor times 365 – a fake number meant to frighten the low-info neighbor into a pleasant state of indignant anxiety, like Republican political rhetoric. The right comparison would be to count the potential occupancy of all the houses on the block, all those that will be in the HANO project across the street, and the facing houses on Royal, multiplied by 365. That would be about 52,500. But don’t worry about it – both numbers are nonsense.
An analogue of this bit of fake mathematics would be to add up all the rooms in all the hotels on and around Canal Street, throw in the Monteleone for good measure, multiply by 365 for the year, and try to give the impression that they will all be on Bourbon Street at around the same time Saturday night. Ridiculous. The human impact of a hotel is a factor of the number of people in it at any one time. The actual impact you would see is closer to, say, the Bienville Hotel, which has 83 rooms. If you watch the Bienville in action, you will see that there really is not a lot of action.
The first bullet point is just as bogus. 10,000 square feet is not the amount allowed. It is the amount allowed without running the project through the conditional use process. This sentence is not the product of ignorance. The Neighbors Firsters behind these statements understand what these words and these rules mean. They intend to mislead. They are selling you WMD.
“Three patios . . . twice the outdoor size of Bacchanal.” How irrelevant can you get? Bacchanal is not a hotel, does not have a pool, does not have walls around the music area, and does not have a sound management engineer on the case. Bacchanal is fun, but it is an acoustic muddle.
“Patios are open air.” There’s a bit of architectural news. It means “patios are patios.”
“Sends” crowd noise. Excuse me? A patio is a space. It doesn’t “send” anything. If you look at the plans, Tracie/WTA has designed buffering structure and space between them and houses. David Woolworth may have contributed to that, and has engaged to design sound technology that will work for the space. Can we be smart enough to see what that is, not to believe the constructs of anxiety disseminated by resident scolds and their amateur sound guy?
The next bullet point is the first accurate one. Yes, plans can change. That applies to all buildings. “. . . especially . . . sound attenuation.” Exactly. Engineering means sound attenuation can be designed, then incrementally improved.
The last bullet point doubles down on the introductory paragraph, adding a ludicrous speculation that everybody would move away, turning the houses into STRs. In other words, since Ms Jones and her clutch of complainers know perfectly well that absentee owner AirBnB in that area is about to become illegal, are setting up to conspire or engage in activity that really is not only questionable but illegal.
Between StudioWTA, Tracie Ashe (and possibly Wayne Troyer, but I haven’t checked) having done a bang-up upgrade on the design (I wonder whether the little NOLAscape pieces attacking bad design helped with that? I hope so.) and the descent of the opponents to the sadly familiar murky, mendacious, deceptive level we have come to expect from Neighbors First and Doctor Jones, NOLAscape is getting off the fence. Let’s support Stateside, because the alternative is supporting an increasingly fragrant bucket of poo.
Another StudioWTA building in Bywater is something to care about. Let’s help Kelso get it done..
Pete and Jenny of The Joint, across the street from Stateside, have been strong opponents of the project, and probably still will be, but I like them anyway, so I am going to tell you something about that little chunk of Bywater: the Pastrami on Rye sandwiches at their delicious restaurant available at lunch on Tuesday are absolutely the most seductive barbecue and best value in the Gulf hurricane zone. But don’t go. They might run out, and I want mine.
(c) NOLAscape May 2016