Upscale wine bar proposed for Oak Street

The long vacant and deteriorating building at 8118 Oak could be the site of an upscale wine bar if the developer can obtain all necessary approvals. At an on-site meeting last night the preliminary plans were presented to a crowd of about 100 nearby neighbors, Oak Street merchants and other interested parties.

The plans call for about 85 seats, live music (jazz combo scale), a large selection of wines, plus beer and spirits, food service, sound proofing and upscale finishings and fixtures. There is also room for 6 or so parking spaces in the rear of the property.

There is the fact that a moratorium on alcoholic beverage outlets, including bars, has been in effect for the area since April. The developer must obtain a waiver from the city council in order to open the wine bar. She is cooperating with the neighborhood in order to explain the nature of her business, respond to concerns and gain support for such a waiver. That was the main reason for the meeting last night.

Judging by comments made during and after the meeting those in attendance generally approved of the plans. Local merchants were enthusiastic about the possibility of having more early evening traffic on the street. Several said they would stay open later if the wine bar brought more customers onto Oak Street after 5:00.

Opposition seemed to center around two issues:

  • First, some fear that bars tend to attract trouble, including litter, loitering, vandalism and so on. We certainly see this with certain bars and ABOs in our area now, including the Frat House and small stores at Dante and Willow and Oak and Leonidas that sell take-away alcohol.  The developer countered that the upscale nature of the proposed business, and a “no one under 21” admission policy, will attract a much different clientele, with the target market being middle-aged folks looking for a sophisticated place Uptown for a drink, conversation and some music.
  • Second, there is a concern about the potential that allowing such a bar might create for a wave of other bar applications on Oak and for how that could impact the future of the street generally.  At bottom, all such applications are subject to approval by the City Council and we have only our civic activism to rely on to influence those political decisions.

Another meeting is planned soon and the time and place will be publicized in advance through this site and emails.

Hollygrove Market and Farm fundraising event Tuesday

An Evening on the Farm”

to benefit Hollygrove Market and Farm (HM&F)

July 28, 2009

6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

The mission of HM&F is to 1) make locally-grown produce available to Hollygrove and the Greater New Orleans area, 2) help support local farmers and sustainable/environmentally friendly growing practices, and 3) enhance the growing capacity of the city through training and the establishment of backyard and community gardens.

The benefit will consist of an evening on the urban micro-farm located in the Hollygrove neighborhood at 8301 Olive Street (just behind the post office off of Carrollton Avenue). Guests will be invited to tour the farm, groove to live music, taste the culinary creations of local celebrated chefs, enjoy locally brewed and distilled beverages or creative libations from area bartenders, get an autographed copy of several recipe books, participate in the silent auction, or win a door prize.

Click here for more info and tickets.

The word is: Chickens

What do I hear more talk about at backyard parties this summer? Not house prices or crime.

Chickens. (And the heat, of course.)

Urban chicken ranching is a growing phenomenon all over the US, apparently.  And it’s not always a popular idea with the neighbors. See this video from Salem, OR. 

I hear we can have up to 3 chickens, but no roosters, here in our fair city.

School supply drive for Carrollton children

Rev. Stanford Williams of New Covenant Faith Church has asked CRNA to assist with the church’s school supply drive for the children of Carrollton on August 8, 2009.  All backpacks donated need to be made from either clear or mesh materials.

Marilyn Kearney of Oak St. Main St. project has volunteered as a collection point for the school supplies.  The Oak St. Main St. office address is 8118 Oak St.  Donations can be dropped off during the week from noon to 5:00 pm.

Please see the attached letter for other information regarding the school supply drive or contact Betty DiMarco, 589-7721.

Read the School Donation appeal letter.

Monthly Meeting Minutes – July 2009

CRNA Monthly Meeting – Minutes

July 11, 2009 

Attending—Board:  Pax Bobrow,  Gordon Cagnolatti,  Betty DiMarco , Marilyn Barbera, Rudolf Garrison, Tilman Hardy, Marshall Hevron, Julianna Padgett, Gary Smith, Amanda Smithson, Jerry Speir, and Jim Stratton.  Absent Board Members:  Kevin Brown, Todd Leavitt, Judith Miranti, Llewelyn Soniat,  and Betsy Weymann.                                   

Residents/Guests:  Brenda Floyd, Camilla Franklin, Celia Griffin, Marilyn Kearney, Anne Nicolay, Robbie Robertson, Ian Smithson, Sabine Teijelo

Marilyn Kearney, Director of the Oak Street Main Street project, is surveying the neighborhood for its perceptions of the Main Street program.  She asks that everyone take a few moments to send her an e-mail answering the question:  “How are we doing?”  She is happy to have critiques and suggestions for the future.  The program presently operates through four committees:  Organization, Design, Promotion, and Economic Development.    Marilyn can be reached at oakstreetnola@bellsouth.net

Gordon Cagnolatti reported on preparations for the annual Night Out Against Crime.  The date this year is Tuesday, August 4.  He is still looking for an indoor “rain location,” just in case.  It was suggested that it might be possible to close off a block of Oak Street for the primary location.  Other suggestions included:  coordinating with the Carrollton Area Network (through H.V. Nagendra), and inviting Oak Street food vendors to sell food at the event.  Amanda Smithson and Camilla Franklin offered to help with arrangements for the event; Camilla may be able to help arrange for a local band.

Pax Bobrow reported on an opportunity from the Capacity College (presented by the Neighborhood Partnership Network), which several of our members attended.  An LSU sociology professor has offered to do a free survey of our neighborhood.  The survey has a fixed format, aligned with the professor’s research, but could still produce useful information on individual circumstances and perceptions.  Julianna Padgett offered to review the survey instrument prior to our becoming involved.  On a motion by Amanda Smithson, seconded by Jim Stratton, the group unanimously approved participation in the survey, pending Julianna’s review.  Pax will coordinate with the LSU professor.

Camilla Franklin reported on another opportunity from Capacity College:  partnering with the Regional Planning Commission to improve our data collection about the neighborhood.  This effort could include helping us to use Google Earth maps to assess conditions in the neighborhood, creating spreadsheets that would be useful for accumulating neighborhood data, mapping blighted property, etc.  Camilla and Pax will follow-up on this opportunity. 

Yet another idea from the Capacity College experience was the creation of a community garden on the grounds of the former Priestley School on Leonidas. School Board member Woody Koppel mentioned that this might be a possibility in his recent appearance at our monthly meeting.  

Marilyn Barbera reported on efforts to enhance and maintain Dublin Park, behind the Riverbend strip mall.  Richard Mathis has financed much of the work on the park in recent years, though Parks and Parkways is now cutting the grass again.  There are still expenses for the mulching and watering of trees that have recently been planted by volunteers.  On motion by Amanda, seconded by Marilyn, the group unanimously approved contributing $100 toward those expenses. 

Betty DiMarco reported on Rev. Stanford Williams project to provide free school supplies for children in the neighborhood.  Donations of supplies (backpacks, paper, pens, pencils, rulers, notebooks, folders, crayons, etc.) are needed.  Marilyn Kearney offered her Main Street office, 8118 Oak,  as a collection point for donated supplies.  If she’s not in, check with Norma at the Queen of the Ball next door.  Donations must be received no later than Friday, August 7.  Supplies will be disbursed on Saturday, August 8. 

Leonidas House:  The fundraiser previously announced for July 25th is being re-scheduled, most likely to August 30, to allow for the inclusion of more local designers and entertainers.  Tickets may be purchased via PayPal and/or you can contact Tilman Hardy at tilmanhardy@kw.com for more information. 

Jerry Speir reported that Katie Winters, who previously proposed the “high end wine bar” at the former White Pillars Emporium location, is now proposing the same project for 8118 Oak Street, the building  that was previously Driscoll’s Antiques (before they moved down the street) and that is presently being used by a rug dealer (with a small portion of the space devoted to the Oak Street Main Street office). 

Jerry reported that, to his knowledge, Ms. Winters is committed to making her application to the City Planning Commission (CPC) for the necessary approvals on July 20.  She will provide us with those documents at the same time.  The earliest that her proposal would be heard by the Commission is August 25.  A City Council hearing would be at least three weeks after the CPC hearing.  

Ms. Winters is proposing to use approximately 3000 square feet of the ground floor of the building for the project.  She expects to be able to provide enough parking spaces in the rear of the building of avoid any need for a parking variance.  She is willing to sign a Good Neighbor Agreement with us saying that neither her liquor license nor her conditional use permit would transfer to a subsequent owner/operator.  She wants to be able to have music at the wine bar, saying that she wants music more in the jazz combo style than a rock band.  She promises to insulate the building such that any music or other noise would not be heard in the neighborhood.  And she professes a willingness to work with the neighborhood on other issues of importance. 

After considerable discussion, concerning appropriate procedures both for dealing with the board’s taking a position on the issue and our interaction with our members and the most affected neighbors, the group agreed to following general process: 

–the CPC application documents provided by Ms. Winters will be circulated to the general CRNA membership when they become available.

–we will have an initial meeting with Ms. Winters, the board, and the most affected neighbors during the week of July 27, at 8118 Oak, the proposed site. A specific date is to be determined, based on Ms. Winters’ availability.

–a second meeting may be necessary the following week.

–prior to the July 27 meeting, we will place flyers announcing the meeting on every house within a two block radius (Dante to Carrollton and Willow to Freret were suggested as boundaries for that process).

–we will have a general meeting to which all are invited, for the purpose final discussion of the project, on Thursday, August 13, the regularly scheduled date for our next board meeting.

–the board will meet at a subsequent date to vote on the project (and/or will vote via e-mail) . 

Amanda, Pax, Julianna, Camilla, Ian and Marilyn all offered to help with getting the word out.  Camilla will ensure that flyers are produced and distributed. Amanda will send out the CPC documents via e-mail.

Why we like Carrollton

I’ve lived in Carrollton for most of the 30 years I’ve lived in New Orleans. Inertia? Maybe. But there are many good reasons to live here and remain here. While preparing for the recent PRC Sellabration of New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods we came up with a list of 36 reasons.

See the Page at right (under “Pages”).

And feel free to add your own reasons under “comments” at the bottom of the page.