The New Orleans City Planning Commission is set to weigh in on proposed plans for a hotel and parking lot on St. Claude Avenue.
As it prepares for zoning approvals next week, new details have emerged about a proposed hotel development on St. Claude Avenue in Bywater, where a lot formerly occupied by the Truck Farm space and several residential properties could be transformed into a 37-room hotel.
The New Orleans City Planning Commissions (CPC) appears likely to approve the plans at an upcoming hearing, pending developers’ amendments to the site plans at the request of the CPC. The CPC meets
at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the Rosenwald Recreation Center (1120 S. Broad St.).
In December, several Bywater residents and property neighbors voiced their concerns about The Sun Yard, which calls for changing the block’s “four two-family residential uses and a vacant office” into a hotel with a restaurant, bar and pool.
In its 245-page report
, the CPC says the “primary impacts of the proposal would include an increase in noise, litter or debris, and odors.” Those impacts will create a “a definitive increase in overall intensity and will certainly have an impact on surrounding properties.”
Growing opposition to the project has challenged the size and scope of the hotel, which opponents fear will change the neighborhood character, disproportionately impact property taxes and housing affordability in the area, and add to the strip a permanent commercially zoned designation that lives with the property in perpetuity, opening it up to other larger commercial use if the hotel chooses to close.
An online petition
opposing the hotel has collected nearly 3,000 signatures, and neighbors and residents have held several community meetings about the project, citing issues with its size (41,000 square feet), fears about its potential disruption of the neighborhood, and the rapid upscaling of a neighborhood led by similar developments. Several nearby residents, including artists and musicians Quintron and Missy Pussycat, among others, also have rallied against the proposal.
More than 30 letters in opposition are attached to the CPC report in addition to a dozen letters in support.
But the CPC says the proposed plans overall are largely consistent with the city’s Master Plan — the governing document for zoning rules throughout the city — as well as St. Claude’s commercial corridor, which technically allows for hotels. The CPC staff supports the zoning change that places the entire development into a commercial zoning designation, rather than a “split-zoned” mix of residential and commercial. The staff also supports the developers’ application for a conditional use, required for non-residential properties larger than 10,000 square feet within that corridor.
In order to meet conditions for approval, the CPC requests developers move the bar from the back of the property to an enclosed space in the front; place limits on amplified sound and hours of operation during special events; and reorient a loading and unloading area to be entered via St. Claude, away from residential sides of the street.
The CPC also objects to the off-street parking plans and recommends adding on-site parking within the property rather than on the other side of the street. The report says the proposed parking lot presents issues with pedestrian safety, ADA accessibility, and “negative aesthetic impact.”
Sun Yard developers Liz Solms and Giuliano Pignataro also plan to host gallery shows, performances and other community events at the hotel, Solms told Gambit
in December. “I’ve spent a lot of time reaching out to people to find out what they want," she said. "We’re not condo developers. If we had been a condo, we wouldn’t have to get a zoning change. … That’s not the type of developers we are … We think this is a positive addition to the neighborhood, only really amplifying it and not stamping it out.”