The Circle Food Store

June 29, 2010

Address: 1522 St. Bernard Ave.
Owner: Dwayne Boudreaux (Circle Food Store, Inc.)
OPBOA Assessed Property Value: $136,470
Unoccupied Since: 2005
Damage Assessment: Unknown
Status: Planning Stages of Redevelopment

The building that now houses the Circle Food Store was first built some time between 1841 and 1860. At the time, it was called the St. Bernard Market, and was part of New Orleans’ extensive network of public markets (there were 36 in total). As the market system declined during the 1930s and 40s, the market, like so many others, was sold to private owners.

Map of Public Market SystemThe earliest record for the property in the city’s Real Estate Records Office is an act of sale from 1941. The sale was to Jacob Steinman, who bought half the property, and his five siblings, who each bought the remaining five tenths of the property. In addition to the Market, the Steinman’s also bought a number of adjacent properties, all of which are not either storage or parking. The property was again sold in 1949 to George Wainer, who, along with his wife, son and sister, sold it in 1954 to the 3rd District Homestead Association, a now defunct or renamed local bank. That same day, it was sold to Herbert J Gabriel and Mike Gabriel. Considering the bank sold it at a $20,000 loss, it is possible they acquired it through foreclosure. In 1964, the building was sold by the Gabriels to Circle Food Realty, Inc., in exchange for the controlling share of stock in the company. At some point over this period, the old St. Bernard Market was dubbed the Circle Food Store.

St Bernard Market Lettering Still ThereIn 1995, Herbert Gabriel stepped down as the owner of Circle Food Inc., giving the Circle Food Store to the head manager and current owner, Dwayne Boudreaux. As Mr. Boudreaux testified to the New Orleans City Council in February of 2010 (which I encourage you to watch, here), in its heyday, the Circle Food Store was a crucial component of life in the 7th Ward. According to Mr. Boudreaux and in true New Orleans fashion, it boasted the largest Easter display in the city, moved the highest volume of bell peppers or any store, and had a doctor, a dentist and even a chiropractor.

In 2005, however, the failure of the federal levee system brought on by Hurricane Katrina forced the Circle Food Store to close its doors. Since then, Mr. Boudreaux and a coalition of 7th Ward residence, have been working doggedly to reopen the store. Since Mr. Boudreaux has been able to gut the building and remove the storm damaged equipment, preparing the building for renovation. Twice, he has teamed up with The Campaign to Reopen Circle Food, an awareness campaign run out of Neighborhood Housing Service’s 7th Ward neighborhood center, to hold events to gauge public support. The first a parking lot sale in 2007, was a tripartite effort with Ed Blakely and was, according to Mr. Boudreaux, a huge success. The second, a parking lot sale and broader, block party style event, was held in 2009, and drew an even larger crowd. To follow up on these successes, the 7th Ward Neighborhood Center has begun running a more robust awareness campaign, including selling Circle Food merchandise, a blog, and numerous other pending plans.

Ads for past services Despite the strong support, a much harder issue has been that of financing, especially public financing. As early as 2007, Mr. Boudreaux reports being contacted by Ed Blakely at the Office of Recovery Management about the possibility of a grant to reopen the store, to the tune of $3-4 Million. According to Mr. Boudreaux, this was the first time he had considered public funding, so he decided to wait and see what would happen before pursuing private financing. “I wanted to see just to what extent the city was able to help me,” he told the blight blog, “but I waited and waited, dealing with different people, different aspects of the city, and it never materialized.” Mr. Boudreaux reports having been told that it would take up to 6 to 8 months when he first met with Blakely, but that when Blakely was replaced, he had to start over. “The next guy came in, and he said 6 to 8 months, then the guy after that said the same thing,” he says.

Just before Mr. Boudreax testified before the City Council, he got good news. Though a far cry from Blakely’s $4 Million, through an economic development grant, the city had awarded him about $100,000 to reopen the store. Though he hasn’t yet drawn on the money, he has begun working with Tulane’s School of Architecture and School of Business on blueprints and a business plan. Yet, Mr. Boudreaux admits that he is still not sure how he will raise the remaining funds. This was the purpose of his visit to City Hall, to ask the Council for guidance in finding funding. And, while the Council responded enthusiastically to his testimony, the only support they were able to offer was verbal.

Gallery:

The St. Roch Market

June 5, 2010

Address: 2381 St. Claude Ave.
Owner:
City of New Orleans
OPBOA Assessed Property Value: $650,000
Unoccupied Since: 2005
Damage Assessment: Unknown
Status: Planning Stages of City-funded Redevelopment

The St. Roch Market was built in 1875 as part of the City of New Orleans’ extensive system of public, open-air markets. By the 1930s, the building was crumbling, and the city slated it for demolition. However, after widespread public outcry and intensive lobbying on the part of Faubourg St. Roch residents, the building was remodeled under the WPA. It was during this period that the market was retrofitted with then-modern accommodations, including refrigeration and plumbing. In the period immediately following WWII, the public market system was disbanded, with only the French Market and the St. Roch Market (again, because of resident support) remaining. It was also during this period that the market was fully enclosed, and began to operate under private management. In the years leading up to Katrina, the market was operated by a family of Chinese immigrants, who converted a portion of the market into a restaurant-style eatery.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded the market, causing structural damage and leaving it shuttered. As city property, the onus has been on the Office of Recovery Management to rehabilitate the market. ORM, in turn, has contracted the project management to MWH, a planning firm that has recently been the focus of some controversy regarding the misuse of the city’s revolver fund (read more hereand here). In early 2009, both ORM and MWH, along with the architect in charge of the project, Lee Ledbetter and Associates, held a series of public hearings to discuss their plans for the markets with area residents. The plans, however, are quite gaunt. They call for the redevelop of the site as a “white box,” essentially an empty space, the use of which will be determined by an unidentified third party tenant. The revelation of this led to some controversy at one 2009 public hearing, with a few St. Roch residents expressing concern that its use would be dictated by more affluent residents of the Bywater and Marigny. At one point, a resident even interrupted the MWH representative, saying “if your from St. Roch, raise your hand,” at which only a third of those in attendance did.

More pressing, perhaps, than the projects eventual use, is the possibility that the city does not yet have all the funding needed to complete the project. According to an MWH memo, the current project budget is $3,000,000, while the current available funding is only $651,972, leaving a funding gap of $2,348,028. The document goes on to list $1,000,000 worth of CDBG funding and over a million more in potential FEMA reimbursements that it hopes to use as gap funding. Yet, it lists the likelihood of reimbursement for the bulk of the FEMA funding as only 70%. Regardless, the project has been approved for its full budget, and the same document gives 5/27/2011 as the date of completion, with 5/27/2010, a year earlies, as the start date for construction. However, according to one active neighborhood member, ORM recently moved the date back to December, to which he added, “[I’m] not holding my breath.”

Gallery:

The Lindy Boggs Medical Center

May 13, 2010

Address: 301 N. Jefferson Davis Pkwy
Owner: St. Margaret’s Daughters Home
OPBOA Assessed Property Value: $6,048,930
Unoccupied Since: 2005
Damage Assessment: Unknown
Status: No Current Code Violations

The Lindy Boggs Medical Center, a 187-bed hospital named for the first female representative from Louisiana, began providing medical care in the1920s.  During Katrina, the hospital stayed open, acting as shelter for staff, patients, their families and, as more than six feet of water inundated the surrounding Mid-City neighborhood (read more about Lindy Boggs during Katrina here).

Since the storm, the future use of the building has been a somewhat contentious issue.  Tenet, a for profit healthcare corporation that owned Lindy Boggs and a number of other medical facilities before the storm, entered into negotiations with Ochsner to buy up and redevelop its facilities, Ochsner bought only three of the five.  According to the Times-Picayune , Ochsner chose not to purchase Lindy Boggs due to the extent of the damage, though some have debated the truth of this assessment.  While declining to purchase the hospital itself did not spark resentment, the terms under which Tenet did manage to offload the property, in 2007 to Victory Real Estate, a Georgia based company assembling land in Mid-City for retail development raised some eyebrows.  According to a clause in the contract, inserted by Ochsner as part of its agreement to purchase Tenet’s other properties, Victory Real Estate was prohibited from redeveloping the facility as a hospital and actually required to demolish the property.

As with the old Bohn Ford dealership (below), the neighbors and the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization were bothered both by the real estate companies plans to build a big-box store and their lack of cooperation with the neighborhood.  The contractual obligation not to reopen a hospital in Mid-City added to the frustration.  Yet, after numerous denials and a long fight by residents, in 2007, Victory Real Estate was granted a demolition permit for the structure, though the recession seems to have prevented them from taking advantage of it, as the building still stands.

Now, the facility looks like it finally has an owner with plans for the site.  In June of 2009, St Margaret’s Daughters Home, a retirement facility in the Bywater, entered into a tentative purchase agreement with Victory (discussed further here) and, on April 30, 2010, they purchased the building for $4.2 Million, less than half the $9.3 Million Victory initially paid for it.  While St. Margaret’s has not returned the Blight Blog’s request for comment, it according to the T-P, they are planning to use it as a rest home, it is unclear if they will use it in tandem with or instead of their Bywater location.

Gallery:

The Bohn Zone (Mid-City)

May 11, 2010

Addresses: 401 N. Carrollton Ave.
Owner: Victory Real Estate Investments, LLC d.b.a. Mid-City Carrollton Investors, LLC
OPBOA Assessed Property Value: $3,695,100
Unoccupied Since: 2005
Damage Assessment: Unknown
Status: No Current Code Violations

While the lots around it changed hands numerous times through the end of the 19th century, the first record in the New Orleans Real Estate Office for 401 N. Carrollton Ave is dated December 26, 1903. It is not an original document, but a form filled out in the last couple of decades reflecting information taken from an act of sale for which they do not have a copy. It shows that on that date, the New Orleans Terminal Company acquired the property, and began laying track there. As the acquisition was only two years after the company’s founding in 1902, it is possible that the lot was part of their first set of tracks, running from New Orleans to Chalmette. Regardless, the remnants of the line can still be seen on the properties just west of the 401 Carrollton Ave. lot, as well as along St. Louis St, intermittently, all the way to the Tremé.

The tracks were still there the next time the property changed hands, almost a hundred years later, in 1995. It was in this year that Romerebo, Inc. the company behind the Bohn Zone, a chain of car dealerships across the metro area. Bobby Bohn was the owner at the time and, once the tracks were cleared, he used a loan from Ford to build the dealership that still sits vacant on the lot.

Bobby no longer works at the Bohn Zone and, according to his brother, who now runs the operation, is difficult to get in touch with. However, he was still in charge during the storm, when according to some f the sales staff, they lost their entire stock of cars at their Mid-City location to over six feet of water. Unfortunately, they were neither they nor Bobby’s brother were able to speak to efforts by the Bohn’s to rebuild the store. To try and infer from a trip to the location: the interior does appear to have undergone some renovation, though the tipped over port-o-potty and the lack of any filed final inspections implies that work hasn’t been going on for some time.

In addition, in 2007, the property was sold to Victory Real Estate Investors, a Georgia company doing business under the name Mid-City Carrollton Investors, LLC, as well as a number of other similar names in Orleans Parish, for $8.5 Million. Along with the Bohn Zone, Victory purchased a number of other properties, stretching from Solomon St. to Jefferson Davis Pkwy, most notably, the properties across the street that were redevelop as a Rouses and Home Depot, and the old Lindy Boggs Medical Center.

While, according to a Times-Picayune article, their initial plans for the properties were retail and residential development, it seems that a tanking real estate market made finding investors or occupants difficult. In addition, there was some dispute with the neighborhood as to the property’s final use. According to Jennifer Farwell, president of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, they were initially planning on putting in a Wal-Mart, which the neighborhood opposed, largely on the grounds that Victory was unreceptive to working or even communicating with the MCNO as they develop their plans. City records show that, in 2008, Victory successfully applied for a demolition permit for the property, though two years later, the property is still standing. Victory has also been reluctant to answer or return any phone calls regarding the property, though the Vice-President’s secretary asked if our phone calls were about leasing, the times someone answered the phone. The property is also still listed on their website, under the dropdown menu for development.

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Martin Wine Cellars

May 2, 2010

Addresses:
3727 Baronne St.
3801 Baronne St.
3805 Baronne St.
3809 Baronne St.
3827 Baronne St.
3901 Baronne St.
3909 Baronne St.
1818 Peniston St.
Owner:
Martin Wine Sellers (Martin Orleans Properties, LLC), except 3727 Baronne (owned by Cedric and Pamela Martin)
OPBOA Assessed Property Value (cumulative): $736,460
Unoccupied Since: 2005 (store, warehouse and Bicycle Club) 2008-09 (rental units scheduled for demolition)
Damage Assessment: Unavailable
Status: Undergoing plans for renovation

Cedric Martin’s father started Martin Wine Cellars in 1946 as a small store on the corner of Baronne and General Taylor. In 1969, they expanded their operations, purchasing all of the properties on the lake side of Baronne’s 3800 block. While many of the properties stayed residential and occupied through Katrina and even after, the property at 3827 was used as a store front, and the 3809 property was used for parking. While Mr. Martin began running the store in the late 80s, his father stayed involved, coming into the store everyday until he died.

The buildings took only two feet of water during Katrina, but the restaurant and store were looted, and the food sat unrefrigerated and for over two months, further compounding mold and water damage. In addition to this loss, the first floor offices of Martin Wine Cellar’s warehouse on Bienville were completely flooded, and the majority of their wine stock was lost to heat damage. With minor repairs, Mr. Martin was able to rent the residential properties. The restaurant and store, on the other hand, required substantial work before they could be reopened.

It has been five years since Katrina, and only within the last year has Mr. Martin been able to begin taking steps to reopen his store and put his commercial properties back into use. When asked why he waited, Mr. Martin explained that, more important than reoccupying these properties, he had to rebuild his business. For Mr. Martin, this required opening two new locations away from Katrina’s worst damage, one in Madeville, one in Baton Rouge and a third in New Orleans, but in a flood free property on Magazine St. “I had to wait until my economic situation was better and stronger before I could even consider it,” he told the Blight Blog.

Now, Martin Wine Cellars is profitable enough that Cedric has begun taking the initial steps to reclaim the space where his family’s business began. He phased out tenants from his residential properties, and applied for permits for demolition, a process that has taken some time.

On February 1, 2010, he went before the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee to apply for a permit to demolish the above properties, including 3727 Baronne, a property he had recently purchased to tear down and use as parking (along with rear portions of the 3800 block properties). General support was shown for the demolition of the 3727 property because, as one neighbor noted, “It is in especially bad condition, and everyone in the immediate area would like to see the building removed,” and his application for demolition was approved.

3805-07 Baronne, the property Mr. Martin has been petitioned to save

Reactions were less uniform to his request to tear down the properties on the Baronne’s 3800 block. Neighbors expressed some concern about some of the buildings not being preserved, especially the “Bicycle Club” building located at 3901 Baronne. However, all were very supportive of Mr. Martin reopening, and were therefore reluctant to stand in the way. The NCDC agreed to differ his application until March 3rd. In this same meeting, Mr. Martin confirmed that he planned to work with the Preservation Resource Center to salvage any historic or reusable materials from the demolitions. The full NCDC meeting summary for February 1st can be found here .

At the March 1st meeting, Mr. Martin was approved to demolish everything but the “Bicycle Club” located at 3901 Baronne St. However, his application for 3801 Baronne was denied, and a decision on 3805-7 Baronne was postponed by two weeks. While this time the Delachaise Neighborhood Association expressed full and unanimous support, a neighbor, Sara Adkins, presented a 25-signature petition in opposition to the proposed demolition. The full NCDC report for March 1st can be read here .

The side of 3727 Baronne, where deconstruction by the Preservation Resource Center has already begun.

When Mr. Martin spoke with us, the issue of 3805-07 Baronne St. had not yet been fully resolved. Mr. Martin reported that, to appease those who did not want all of the properties torn down, he agreed to donate 3805-07 Baronne St. to a neighbor. However, the woman who initial was to receive the property recently suffered a stroke, delaying the process.

Despite these delays, Mr. Martin expressed confidence that, sooner rather than later, work would begin, and his family’s business would return to where it began, at the corner of General Taylor and Baronne.

(To learn more about the permitting process for demolitions in New Orleans, you can go here .)

Gallery:

City Hall Annex

April 23, 2010

Front of building from Canal StAddress: 2400 Canal

Previous Owner: Owned by Robert Evans and Cesar Burgos from 2006 to March 2010

Current Owner: The City of New Orleans

Assessed Property Value: $1,893,700

Unoccupied Since: 2000

Damage Assessment: Unavailable

Status: Undergoing plans for renovation

The five story, utilitarian-in-appearance, City Hall Annex is located in Mid City and is situated directly on Canal St. between S. Rocheblave St. and S. Tonti St.  The building was originally used to house Pan-American Life Insurance, which is now located at 601 Poydras St.  The building has remained vacant and unoccupied for over a decade.

Robert Evans and Cesar Burgos initially pursued acquisition of the property in March 2005.  The events of Hurricane Katrina disrupted their purchasing plans; however in 2006 Evans and Burgos finalized the purchase for $1.95 million.  The initial plans for redevelopment incorporated recreational and commercial facilities on the first two floors, and apartments on the top three floors.

In April 2007, the Regional Planning Commission proposed the area between Galvez St. and Rocheblave St. for the location of the VA Hospital.  The City Hall Annex is located within this footprint, but was considered and amenity during the initial stages of the hospitals proposal.  In late 2007 the New Orleans City Council issued a moratorium on all properties located within the hospital site but excluded the annex from being included in the freeze.

In March 2010 Louisiana State University followed a quick-take procedure and deposited $3.7 million in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.  This allowed for the instant transfer of the properties title to the State of Louisiana through its expropriation law therefore seizing the property from Evans and Burgos.

According to Evans and Burgos, the expropriation price of $3.7 million does not cover the funds they have invested into the property since their acquisition, as well as the property value.  The two owners invested at least $2 million since they acquired the property that not only covered monthly insurance and interest payments, but the costs to actively pursue the building be declared a historic therefore allowing the owners to get tax credits.

In December 2010 after the property was seized, the State of Louisiana offered $4.8 million to Evans and Burgos to purchase the property through a voluntary sale, but the offer was rejected.

As development plans for the VA Hospital persist, Evans and Burgos are actively fighting the seizure of their property.  They are insisting they are compensated for both they money they invested and total value of the property.

According to the City of New Orleans Press Release on March 15th 2010, the original Pan American building will renovated and used for housing education, training, recruitment, and administrative services for the VA Hospital. The renovation is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Gallery:

The Downtowner Motel

April 22, 2010

Address: 2222 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119

Current Owners: Saints Anita and Rene, LLC

Unoccupied Since: At least 2002

Property Value: $467,000

Damage Assessment: Unavailable

Status: Guilty of Code Violation (before fire)

On April 4, 2010, around 8 o’clock, a fire started in the motel on the corner of Tulane Ave. and South Galvez St.   It took three hours and four fire engines to put out the blaze and, in the process, a large portion of Mid-City and the Tremé lost power.  Video and a more detailed account of the incident can be found here.

The building sits on land that was initially purchased for the construction of a series of single-family homes; lots individually purchased starting in 1908 and ending some time in the late 1940s.  Not long after the final residential tract was purchased, developers began acquiring the lots, assembling them for sale as a series of larger commercial properties.  In 1972, two smaller hotel companies sold their two smaller tracks of land (six and half lots in all) to Young Properties, Inc.  While one cannot be certain, it is likely that the current building that sits on the lot today was constructed during this period, as it is the first time on record when all of the lots were sold together.  A few years later, Young Properties sold it to Innkeepers Choice.

After being sold to Innkeepers Choice, the building seemed to lose profitability.  In March of 1987, Innkeepers Choice lost it in a foreclose to Pioneers Bank and Trust, who immediately sold it to 2222 Tulane Ave, Inc.  In August, 2222 Tulane sold it to Continental Properties.  In 2002, Continental Properties declared bankruptcy and the Motel was acquired by the Saints Anita and Rene, LLC for $650,000.  The same company owns the motel today.

It is unclear when the property first became abandoned.  However, according Fred Hayes, an architect with Hayes Architecture, who reports having done some preliminary research for a developer who wanted to turn the property into condos in early 2005, the building had been vacant for some time.  “The plumbing and electrical had all been ripped out, probably by people who were staying their illegally,” he told the Blight Blog, “so to redevelop it you would have had to have redone all of that.”  According to Mr. Hayes, the current owners wanted too much, and Tulane Avenue was too economically depressed to make the investment profitable, so the project was put on hold, indefinitely.

On March 3, 2009, the building was reviewed during one of the city’s mass code enforcement hearings.  The property owners did not show up, the building was found in violation of city code, and a $500 fine was levied.  Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because of other neglect, the Assessors’ office dropped the properties value by $151,150 from 2009-2010.  Despite this, a few days after the judgment, Mitchell Crusto, a lawyer representing the LLC that owns the property, applied for and received a permit from the city to secure the property. While this would have brought the building up to city standards for storm damage properties, there were no signs of any measures having been taken to secure the property before the fire.

The Blight Blog has contacted Mr. Crusto, who reported that, “The property is under contract for sale to be used as a homeless shelter development and is pending a City use permit.”  He could not be reached for further comment, or to address any complications that the fire may have caused.  There is no application for a city use permit on file at city hall for the Tulane Ave. property.

Gallery:

Scottish Rite Masonic Temple Building

April 15, 2010

Scottish Rite Masonic Temple

Scottish Rite Masonic Temple

Address: 3200 St Bernard Avenue

Owner: Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree Freemasons (Scottish Rite)

Assessed Property Value: $210,300

Unoccupied since: August 2005

Damage Assessment: Unavailable

Status: No code enforcement issues at this time

According to the initial bill of sale, the plot of land between St Bernard Avenue on its north side, Florida St. to its west, Frey St. to its east and a US. Post office parking lot to its south was first surveyed and purchased in 1953 as part of the Grillot subdivision.  However, it wasn’t until a 1962 sale by the New Orleans Housing Mart (who had purchased the property in 1958) that the municipal number 3200 St. Bernard Avenue was included in any legal documents, implying that some version of the massive pink building still on the lot was constructed around that time.  After the 1962 sale, the property changed hands three more times. In 1963, it was acquired by Leon S. Poirier who, in 1967, sold it to the Young Women’s Christian Association.  In 1973, it was purchased by the Supreme Council of the 33rd degree Freemasons, who still own it today.

Arthur Morrell's Old Office

Arthur Morrell's Old Office

The building is four stories tall, and comprised of a series of smaller suites and offices. One of these was the local legislative office of Arthur Morrell, when he was the state representative of District 97.  His name is still visible, along with numerous other tenants, on the doors of the first floor suites.

While no damage report exists with the city (which is not uncommon, even for buildings that were damaged by Katrina) according to the local Mason chapter representative, the building was severely damaged during the storm.  It has since been boarded up and gutted, and some new studs are visible through the windows on the first floor.  When I called the local chapter, I was given a number for the person allegedly in charge of the renovations.  The number did not work.  According to the city’s fast track permitting database, the only permit successfully pulled was for a temporary power pole in 2007.  The pole is still there, though after multiple visits to the site, there are no signs of current renovation, and no other permits have been pulled.

However, the small wooden annex on the second floor has working lights, and there are folding chairs lined up in some of the rooms, signs that the building, though still unrenovated, is being used.  Despite this, after calling the local chapter of the Scottish Rite, another local Mason chapter and the national office of the Scottish Rite, I still have not been able to confirm that any of these groups owns the building.

Gallery:

The Dixie Brewery

April 13, 2010

From Tulane Ave

Address: 2401 Tulane Ave. New Orleans, LA 70117

Current Owners: Joe Bruno and Kendra Bruno

Unoccupied Since: August 2005

Property Value: $1,387,100

Damage Assessment: Unavailable

Status: Unknown

The Dixie Brewery building was built in 1907 for $85,000 by Valentine Merz.  The six story low rise’s purpose was to brew, store, and distribute what is present day Dixie Beer.   During prohibition, the brewery manufactured and distributed non-alcoholic beer until 1933.  When prohibition ended, Dixie Beer eventually reached the national market and gained an iconic status for the city of New Orleans.

The current owners purchased the building in 1986 and continued to produce and market the product until August 2005, when the events of Hurricane Katrina ravaged the property.

The brewing equipment was devastated beyond repair from flooding, and the property suffered significant damage.

Much of the delay in renovations can be attributed to the building’s location within the VA Hospital footprint.  With the potential threat of being demolished to make way for the hospital’s expansive campus, plans for rebuilding have been put on hold.  However, the Historic District Landmarks Committee of New Orleans has nominated the building as a local landmark, which can offer protective reasoning against its demolition.

Currently, Dixie Beer is being brewed and distributed in Monroe, WI and supplies a smaller national market from its pre-Katrina operations.

Gallery:

The Louisiana Family Council and L. C. Frank & Son Service Station

April 7, 2010

Address: 4722 Earhart Blvd and 1429 S. Jefferson Davis Pkwy

Owner: Life-Line Community Development/Jill Dapremont

Assessed Property Value: $273,200

Unoccupied since: August 2005 (4722 Earhart Blvd) unknown (1429 S. Jefferson Davis Pkwy)

Damage Assessment: Unavailable

Status: Approved for Demolition

1429 Jefferson Davis Pkwy

1429 Jefferson Davis Pkwy

While two distinct addresses, the buildings located at 4722 Earhart Blvd and 1429 S. Jefferson Davis Pkwy sit on the same municipal lot, have the same owner and are assessed as a single property.  The property on 4722 Earhart (the absent façade of which is pictured above) appears to have had a simple, utilitarian design, while the property on Jefferson Davis, a service station dating from the 1950s, has a distinct, “Streamline Moderne” style.

4722 Earhart Blvd.

The lot was first developed in 1925, when a construction company bought land on either side of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad tracks (run just 27 years prior).  The company owned the property until 1954, when the City of New Orleans acquired it in order to relocate the rail line and construct Earhart Blvd.  That same year, a man named Martin L. Frank was given the property in exchange for another lot in Earhart’s path. With the property, he was given the right to construct a service station and, in 1959, he did, signing a 99-year lease with Sidney Stanfield, the station’s operator.

4722 Earhart Blvd

4722 Earhart Blvd

In 2001, Martin’s grandson, Lawrence M. Frank, lost the property to American General Financial Services to settle a $131,000 debt.  That same year, American General filed the paperwork to annul Mr. Stanfield’s 99-year lease.  Less than a year later, the building was sold for $200,000 to the Life-Line Community Development Corporation.  Later that year, they opened the Louisiana Family Council on the first floor, to provide family counseling and wellness classes to the neighborhood.

However, according to Jill Dapremont, Life-Line’s chairperson just before Katrina, the CDC was turned down by the city for a grant to renovate the rest of the building.  Less than a year later, Katrina hit, and Life-Line did not have the funding to repair.  Ms. Dapremont now lives in Memphis, where she was displaced after the storm.  She told the blight blog that were still members of the organization in New Orleans, though she had no contact information.  An Internet search for the organization produced only a photo from when the building’s façade was ripped off by wind during Gustav.

On July 14, 2009, the two properties were included in one of the city’s mass code enforcement hearings.  According to the city’s website.  None of the owners showed up at the hearing, and the city designated the building a public nuisance. On March 1, 2010, the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee approved the property for demolition.

1429 Jefferson Davis Pkwy

1429 Jefferson Davis Pkwy

Gallery:


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