City Closing French Quarter Street to Try ‘People-Friendly’ Concept
NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans and the French Market Corporation said they will close a section of French Market Place to vehicles during the daytime beginning Friday, Oct. 30 to demonstrate the idea of making that section of the French Quarter more “people friendly.” The block between Governor Nicholls Street and Ursulines Avenue will still be accessible to cars between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The experiment is part of a broader initiative to make the Quarter more accessible to pedestrians as the city emerges from the COVID-19 crisis. Many city leaders are excited about the plans but there is some resistance from neighborhood residents, who fear the changes will make their homes less accessible. Business owners struggling with the pandemic seem to be mostly intrigued with any new ideas that will attract more foot traffic.
“I am excited by our innovative collaboration with our community partners to quickly and intentionally reimagine our public spaces to safely fuel our economic recovery, in one of the world’s most historic neighborhoods,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell in a release. “The French Market Place demonstration will provide New Orleanians an opportunity to experience one of several concepts introduced to residents earlier this year as part of the Reimagining the French Quarter initiative, which is engaging residents and businesses on ways to promote a more person-centric French Quarter and reduce the impacts of motor vehicles.”
The French Market Corporation said it will use the street space as expanded seating areas for patrons to be able to enjoy the French Market while maintaining safe distancing under the City’s COVID-19 public health guidelines. The Arts Council New Orleans is organizing new displays of public art.
Local nonprofit StayLocal and adjacent businesses along French Market Place plan to install a pair of parklets – small seating areas set up in former parking spaces – to show off the merits of the City’s Parklet Pilot Program.
“I’ve long supported the idea of reducing traffic and making the French Quarter more pedestrian-friendly. Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to be creative and to think outside the box to help our businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m glad that we have an administration committed to prioritizing pedestrians and businesses in an effective and low-cost way to rejuvenate the French Quarter while promoting the benefits of pedestrianization across our city,” said District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer in a statement.
The French Market will be hosting Boo Carre Halloween Hunt 2020 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 at Dutch Alley. This year’s event will feature four children’s activities and trick-or-treating at shops and vendors in the Flea and Farmers Markets. Activities will be socially distanced and masks will be required for adults and children. To attend, register beforehand at https://tinyurl.com/boocarre.
On Monday, Nov. 16, the City will host a virtual design charrette for the full French Market Place concept, which proposes a full closure of through traffic on the full two blocks of French Market Place. The charrette will present a refined concept plan and provide New Orleanians another opportunity to provide feedback. Details on how to login to the virtual design charrette will be available at www.nola.gov/calendar.
Sanitation and emergency response vehicles will continue to have access along the block as needed.