French Quarter Skyscraper Proposal To Be Heard By City Council Today
NEW ORLEANS – VCPORA, French Quarter Citizens, the Preservation Resource Center and other community groups are speaking out, urging the New Orleans City Council to deny a conditional use permit today that would allow developer Angelo Farrell to go ahead with plans to build a 268’ tall hotel/ restaurant high rise at 121 Royal St. in the French Quarter.
The New Orleans City Council Regular Agenda Item reads:
9. ZONING DOCKET NO. 72/15 – ROYAL COSMOPOLITAN, LLC
Requesting a Conditional Use to permit a multiple-family residence/hotel in a CBD-3 Central Business District and an appeal of the Central Business District Height and Floor Area Ratio Interim Zoning District (IZD), Article 18, Section 18.66 of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, on Square 66, Lot 26, in the Second Municipal District, bounded by Royal, Canal, Iberville, and Bourbon Streets (Municipal Addresses: 121-125 Royal Street). The recommendation of the City Planning Commission being “FOR DENIAL”
In their staff report the City Planning Commission summarizes the project as a, “restoration of an existing historic five-story structure at the front of the site, the former Cosmopolitan Hotel on Royal Street, as well as a tower addition at the rear of the site which would bring the overall height of the development to approximately 26 stories and 268 feet. The 105,445 square foot development would contain between 15 and 20 condominium units, and the remaining units would be used as hotel rooms, not exceeding 162 units in total. The proposal would also necessitate a waiver of Article 18, Section 18.66 of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, the Central Business District Height and Floor Area Ratio Interim Zoning District (IZD), to permit the proposed tower addition which would exceed the maximum allowable height of the district by 198 feet.”
The CPC said they are not “specifically opposed” to the incorporation of a hotel use within this site, but they oppose the intensity of the proposed development as it relates to the proposed bulk, height, and design of the tower addition.
“The staff believes the proposal is inherently inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the underlying CBD-3 zoning district, as well as inconsistent with the future land use and historic preservation components of the Master Plan,” the report states. “The development as proposed would be substantially different in height from the majority of properties within the area, and would in no way compliment the historic building stock of the corridor. The development fails to meet the objectives of the CBD-3 zoning district: it would not “preserve and enhance” the historic district in which it is situated, nor would it “maintain the scale and height” of existing buildings within the Canal Street corridor, or “protect the adjacent Vieux Carré from tall buildings on its boundaries.”
Many community groups have vocalized their support for the CPC’s position, that the “proposed tower is excessive, out-of-scale, and fundamentally incompatible with its surroundings. The development, if approved, would substantially alter and diminish the character of this portion of the French Quarter, the entrance to the historic Vieux Carré.”
At 10:00 a.m. the City Council will consider issuing the permit and the position of the CPC, and community groups VCPORA, French Quarter Citizens and the Preservation Resource Center. The groups started an online petition to denounce the project because they found:
• It’s nearly four times the height limit of 70’ allowed in the recently-adopted Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.
• Its visual impact would adversely affect the “tout ensemble” of the Vieux Carré.
• The only access to the lot is on Royal Street. There is no side or rear access which means every single guest, employee, bag of garbage, linen, food delivery, beverage delivery, etc. would have to enter and exit via the Royal Street façade.