New Developments on 2400 St. Charles Avenue
2400 St. Charles Avenue Proposed Development –
Actions by the Garden District Association
The Garden District Association’s Board of Directors held a special meeting last night to address recent developments respecting the condominium project at the corner of First Street and St. Charles Avenue. The Board has been engaged in opposition to aspects of the project from the start, in particular, opposing the height variance requested by the original developers. We now understand that several attempts were made to develop a commercially viable condominium development on the site, but all failed, leaving the property open for purchase and redevelopment.
Within the last two weeks Colonial Oaks Senior Living, headquartered in Houston, Texas, signed a purchase agreement for the property, and it is attempting to step into the shoes of the previous condominium developer and replace the condominiums with what its CEO, Carl Mittendorff, describes as a state-of-the-art assisted living facility focusing on residents with cognitive impairment, such as alzheimer’s disease.
The news of this radical change in use, and the further indication that the change-in-use is on a fast track for final approval by City authorities, understandably upset many of our residents, who are already reeling from the City Council’s recent approval of short-term rentals and the adoption of the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, which we believe could and should better protect historic neighborhoods like ours.
Although it was not publicized, the GDA was directly and energetically engaged in these matters. Consultants, attorneys and even lobbyists were retained to ensure that no stone was left unturned in promoting the interests of the residents of the Garden District. The results, especially regarding short-term rentals, were certainly disappointing. However, please rest assured that the end result was the best possible result attainable in the current political environment in this city, and no one worked harder or was more engaged than the GDA and our Executive Director, Shelley Landrieu.
The Board, which is daily engaged in some aspect of the zoning and permitting administrative process on behalf of the neighborhood, called this special meeting to get the facts and decide and plan next steps. Also attending last night’s meeting were: (1) Mr. MIttendorff; (2) Patrick Schindler, President of locally owned Felicity Property Co., which has partnered with Colonial Oaks; (3) the Board’s zoning consultant, Karen Fernandez; and (4) Ted Martin, an interested neighbor.
Mr. Mittendorff and Mr. Schindler provided the Board with a more detailed description of the project including a proposed floor plan, further reporting that the present plan is to accommodate 48 residents in 42 units, supported by 45 employees per shift. A copy of Colonial Oaks’ presentation is attached. The developers commented at length on parking requirements and anticipated neighborhood parking impacts. Last but not least, the developers confirmed it is their intention to seek approval of the change in use – from a luxury condominium project to Memory Care/Residential Care facility use – by merely submitting a letter request to the Executive Director of the City Planning Commission to amend the use of the property. In this way, the developers propose to avoid the usual public comment process.
Notably, the developer reportedly will postpone the hearing with the HDLC on the request to expand the enclosed living space on the fourth floor by approximately 4,400 feet until early next month, and the request for the change of use to the CPC will be submitted after the HDLC issues its decision.
The Board unanimously voted to oppose the development, including particularly the developers’ plan to submit the change-in-use request to the City Planning Commission Executive Director, depriving our residents of meaningful participation in the administrative process. While specific actions are still being evaluated, the GDA has already engaged legal counsel, and Ms. Fernandez is drafting the technical points to support our opposition.
The GDA will be fully prepared and well represented in taking on this fight in fulfilling its mission to protect the interests of the residents of the Garden District. The GDA will keep you timely informed of developments in this process. Of course, any and all comments, suggestions, and support are welcome.
The Board of the Garden District Association
Jenny Charpentier firstname.lastname@example.org
Click this link to see the presentation