Tuesday, 6/27. That’s this Tuesday coming up.
The Riverside Overlay is on City Planning’s agenda, in the Council Chamber, in the afternoon.
We could add, Colonel Mustard with the lead pipe, because the neighborhood reactionaries and the old and young fogies who prefer – and have so far successfully maintained – eternal wrangle and snarl and hot air to reality, to time, to this century, are planning to be there in force, thumping tubs to keep Bywater in the scraggy doldrums, to keep Marigny in its state of scruffy gentrification, to advocate policies that block diversity and new life. To keep the neighborhoods confused, divided and bitter. They are calling out the troops to gang the mic, to persuade the Commissioners that the loudest equals the popular, or the logical or best.
You who can see light and life in the world, you should go, too. You are important, because sometimes the Commissioners fall for it. You need to say that we too, the people of this century, are just as keen to keep and respect the old cypress houses. We can maintain the Creole legacy, respect and preserve their great style, and also encourage new quality multi-residential building on the empty, ex-industrial land on the river side of Chartres in Bywater, and the appropriate construction on the Marigny blocks. There is no contradiction except in the lizard medulla of the NIMBY tendency.
They will almost certainly, one after the other say “out of scale.” They repeat it like a meditation mantra. Putting to one side the fact that they frequently misuse the word, substituting scale for size, the fallacy is that nobody disagrees with that! It is not an argument, just a deceptive appeal. I don’t recommend buildings out of scale either.
The question is; what is out of scale? What makes sense? I am going to try to complete and publish an analysis of NFB’s rather incoherent position – hard to pinpoint, but let’s tentatively call it a position – before tomorrow morning. Their letter to City Planning opens a window showing their arguments to be cosmetic cover for emotional reluctance: they repeat several times, “surrounding neighborhood”.
There is no surrounding neighborhood! Chartres and North Peters are on the edge. When the riverfront and border streets are developed properly, Bywater and Marigny would be classic bowl-shaped historic districts.
The classic gothic European cities are the opposite: their centers are soaring, massive castles and cathedrals. Their skylines curve down to the edges.
Except for the French Quarter, designed largely as a miniature of a Franco-Spanish model, New Orleans riverside neighborhoods were residential suburbs, so their later, higher development to restore density and services after the decline of riverfront industry and the demographic change to more square feet per person is higher, denser mixed-use construction around the edges. That does not violate the legacy – it emphasizes it. It underscores it. It frames the art of it. Look at the fine art of the 18th century in NOMA – each canvas has a frame. The frame is not the painting. Is it on that account out of scale? If you want New Orleans to be a city of neighborhoods, as the legend tells us, then Via Latrobe and some excellent architecture on Chartres and Press and St Claude are the ways to clarify it.
It ain’t rocket science, but our most vocal, most militant neighbors just don’t get it.
Try to come, and tell the commissioner and the execs – I’m sure Bob Rivers and Lesley Alley will be there – that we care about good design, good buildings and a real future, not just going a patina while looking in the rear view mirror.
© MOLAscape 2017