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.


Did you know that a portion of the CRNA area is a Cultural District?

A large part of our geography is contained within the “Oak Street Music and Gallery Corridor Cultural District”.


In 2007, the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 298, creating the state’s Cultural Districts program. It provides tax incentives to spark community revitalization based on cultural activity. As a result of this legislation, within designated Cultural Districts, sales of original, one-of-a-kind works of art are exempt from both state and local sales and use taxes. Also income and corporate franchise tax credits are allowed for eligible expenses for rehabilitation of owner-occupied or revenue generating structures in a Cultural District.

There are more than a dozen Cultural Districts across New Orleans and more across the state.

June monthly meeting minutes

CRNA Monthly Meeting – Minutes

June 11, 2009 

Attending—Board:  Marilyn Barbera, Kevin Brown, Julianna Padgett, Gary Smith, and Jerry Speir

Absent Board Members:  Pax Bobrow,  Betty DiMarco, Rudolf Garrison, Tilman Hardy, Gordon Cagnolatti, Marshall Hevron, Todd Leavitt, Judith Miranti, Amanda Smithson, Llewelyn Soniat,  Jim Stratton, and Betsy Weymann                 

Residents/Guests:  Lyn Adams, Marilyn Kearney, Elaine Leyda, Mary Martin, Phil Martin, Cindy Morse, and Anne Nicolay 


Marilyn Kearney, Director of the Oak Street Main Street project, reported on the status of the Oak Street renovation and answered questions from the group about the street’s future.  The renovation work has been temporarily halted by the Corps of Engineers because of the high level of the river.  Work is expected to re-start within the next week. 

Questions about the street’s future included:  Will the street be one-way?  Will there be meters?  What about the traffic problems in front of Jacque-imo’s and the Maple Leaf in the evenings?  How might we recruit “good businesses” to the many vacancies on the street?  Would it be reasonable to make part of the street a “pedestrial mall” in the evenings?  How can we encourage more residential occupancy in the upstairs spaces on the street?  What about a streetcar spur down Oak Street? 

Clearly, the renovation of the street has focused our concerns on the street in new ways and there is an opportunity for new neighborhood cooperation on issues surrounding the street. In the course of the discussion, it was decided that it would be appropriate to hold a separate meeting, with representation from both CRNA and the Oak Street Association to consider all issues pertaining to the street. 

Marilyn Kearney agreed to help organize the first meeting of such a group.  Of those present at the meeting, Ann Nicolay, Phil Martin, Cindy Morse, Marilyn Barbera, Gary Smith and Bob Bermudez volunteered to take part.  The meeting will be open to anyone who is interested.


Elaine Leyda spoke about efforts that she is organizing to clean-up (and save) the Nix Library.  Nix is scheduled for closure under the Library’s Master Plan.  Saturday morning at 8:30 there will be a clean-up at Nix.  Volunteers are encouraged to bring perhaps buckets and scrub brushes for cleaning on the building itself and trashbags, rakes and brooms for cleaning the grounds and sidewalks.  A later phase will involve some landscaping and tree planting. Efforts are also under way to try to get the library open on Saturday—and ultimately to get it back into the Library’s long-range vision for our neighborhood.  Elaine can be contacted at


Marilyn Barbera reported on the Capacity College, organized by the Neighborhood Partnership Network,  that several CRNA members attended since our last meeting .  The group chose to work on urban gardening and is working toward refining a project.  Elaine Leyda also reported that one of the lessons from the Capacity College was the need for surveying our organization’s membership—for doing a “needs assessment”—to help define our own future.  Some preliminary discussion of such a survey has begun.  Anyone with experience and/or interest in such a project should please contact Jerry Speir at


Jim Stratton was complemented for organizing our association’s participation in the Preservation Resource Center’s Neighborhood Sellabration event, which featured available properties in our neighborhood for prospective buyers.  Thank you, Jim


Jerry Speir gave a brief update on the neighborhood land-use planning process that has been led by the Carrollton-Audubon Renaissance, Inc. (CARI) group.  The latest version of the land-use map and a report on its development should be on the organization’s website soon


Gary Smith reported on the code enforcement hearing re: the house at Dante and Zimpel.  The owner was fined $500 plus $75 in court costs and given 30 days to clean up the property and secure it.  Failing that, the fines will be $500 a day to a maximum of $15,000.  Thanks to all who attended that hearing.

Po’ Boy Fest

Poboy Fest website

Originally uploaded by Karen Apricot New Orleans.

Art on Oak

Last night’s Art on Oak was a very fun event, with happenings from Carrollton all the way to Leonidas. There were belly dancers and later Brazilian dancers on the corner across from Ninja. Down the block Jon Schooler’s studio was open, with lots of new work on display, the new Front Room gallery was open and several vendors, including Graffiti Graphics and the Symphony Book Fair, had booths.

As we walked back towards Carrollton around 8:00, we wondered at the gathering of scores of people in costumes around Asian Cajun and the Maple Leaf. We didn’t think too much of it, at first, since this is New Orleans. Then we realized it was the Krewe of Oak preparing for their annual August parade. After enjoying dessert at Pazzo Gelato we encountered the parade as they were turning off Carrollton to march down Oak to Snake & Jakes. All in all, a great night on Oak and a great night in Carrollton.

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Interested in Oak Street?  Check out the Only on Oak website.

Only on Oak

The Oak Street/Main Street mixer attracted a large turnout last night. The wine and cheese tasting was hosted by the Oak Street Cafe. In case you don’t know, the commercial stretch of Oak Street from Carrollton to Leake Ave. is scheduled for a major upgrade through the Main Street program. It is good news for the whole neighborhood.

Watch for more Only on Oak events over the coming months. They have a website under construction.  (Note: It looks fine with IE and Safari browsers but tiny with Firefox.)