The World Trade Center (WTC) building was designed in the 1960’s by Edward Durell Stone, one of America’s most prominent 20th century architects. A distinctive structure in the city skyline, the city-owned WTC building is in danger of being demolished even though it is perfectly serviceable and capable of being redeveloped. Two self-financed proposals have been presented to redevelop the building and both would generate income for the City. Destruction of this building would mark the loss of one more piece of mid-twentieth century architecture from the fabric of the city, echoing the loss of the Rivergate and other mid-century edifices.
Choice Neighborhood Initiative Area
Threat: Large scale redevelopment
In addition to redeveloping the Iberville public housing site, the Choice Neighborhood Initiative will develop over 2,400 market and subsidized housing units in the historic Creole heart of New Orleans. The boundaries, Rampart Street to Broad, Tulane Avenue to St. Bernard, include areas of Greater Tremé, Esplanade Ridge, Mid-City and the Historic 7th Ward neighborhoods, which have struggled successfully to recover after Katrina. The City and Housing Authority must take care to ensure that the development of the housing units, along with subsequent commercial endeavors, are sensitive to the historic community and living culture of this area.
Canal Street Ferry Service
Threat: Loss of transportation route
The first regularly scheduled ferry service between Canal Street and Algiers was established by the Louisiana Legislature in 1827. Today the ferries carry more than 1.1 million passengers a year. 2012 legislation transferred control of the ferries to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and an attempt to privatize the ferry system failed when no companies bid for operations. A bill recently signed by the Governor opens the door to possible operation of the ferries by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, but many issues remain unresolved.
St. Louis Cemeteries No. 1 & 2
Threat: Potential damage from Iberville Redevelopment
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (c. 1796) is the oldest existing cemetery in New Orleans. Along with St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 (c. 1823), they are owned and operated by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The cemeteries represent the early history of New Orleans, and are the final resting place of many prominent New Orleans families, particularly from the Creole population. Already in a fragile condition, the cemeteries are now threatened by the construction impacts from the impending demolition and reconstruction of the Iberville Redevelopment Project, located adjacent to both cemeteries. Extraordinary precautions must be taken to protect and preserve these extremely historic and highly visited sites before any work begins.
1347 Esplanade Avenue
Threat: Demolition by neglect
This late nineteenth century Italianate Greek Revival style cottage attests to the era when elegant homes were built along the avenue by Creoles, many of whom left the French Quarter or moved into the city after the Civil War. Long dilapidated and slowly perishing, this proud house suffered a fire on Easter Sunday of 2013 that demolished the roof. Rain now freely pours into this irreplaceable building, causing further damage. Anchoring a prominent corner of Esplanade, this building cannot afford to be lost.
1828-30 Baronne Street
Threat: Demolition by neglect & insufficient protection for Landmark Buildings
1828-30 Baronne Street is one of two Italianate double gallery duplex residences built side by side shortly after the Civil War. The HDLC has given these buildings Landmark designation, rating them of major architectural importance. The house is important as one of a unique pair of historical buildings, as well as contributing to the fabric of the Central City National Register Historic District. Neglect by the current owner has left the house in a state of serious decline. Action by the city could save this property. Since this property is adjudicated to the city for nonpayment of taxes, it qualifies to go to tax sale, a solution which could ultimately preserve this building.
1831 Polymnia Street
Threat: Demolition by neglect
1831 Polymnia Street was originally built as a school in the 1880’s, and today it is designated as a Landmark building of local architectural importance by the HDLC. Due to neglect this vacant and uninhabitable three story masonry structure is quickly becoming a public safety hazard. This building has visible holes in the roof and is completely open to the elements, with a street opening accessible to vagrants. The owner has received permits for a $4.8 million dollar, 13,000 square foot historic renovation approximately 100 feet away at 1731 Baronne, but no plans have been submitted to renovate or even stabilize 1831 Polymnia St.
Live Oak Canopy
Threat: Damage from public works projects
The sight of shaded streets gracefully lined with live oak trees is indicative of New Orleans. From the destruction of the longest line of live oaks in the nation for the construction of the Claiborne Expressway, to drastic trimming for power lines, live oak trees are frequently butchered or removed for public works projects. A recent example includes the branch mutilation and root damage suffered by trees aged 100 years and older on Napoleon Avenue in spring 2012 as the boulevard underwent a drainage system overhaul. The trees are also cut in order for the Corps of Engineers to get large cranes down the street, rather than using folding cranes with a lower travel height. It will be decades before the trees recover, and we will lose much of the scenic character of the city in the process.
Blighted Occupied Residences
Threat: Demolition by neglect & lack of code enforcement on occupied properties
The presence of blighted properties has long been a pressing issue for New Orleans. While we often think of these properties as uninhabited, many are occupied. The city is currently rewriting the City Code in order to address occupied blight, but the solution is as complex as it is varied. An occupied home should not be lost to a city authority because the owner does not maintain it to government standards. Only proactive solutions that first stabilize a blighted residence can address the most complex cases while still respecting constitutional property rights. The city must strive to support homeowners while preserving the historic built environment of our neighborhoods.