NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The panel that oversees architecture and development in New Orleans’ French Quarter has cleared the way for a new restaurant to replace a long-abandoned gasoline station in one corner of the historic neighborhood.
Wednesday’s decision by the Vieux Carre (voo kah-RAY’) Commission approved architectural plans and a “change-of-use” request for the developer of a planned Habana Outpost restaurant. Restaurant developer Sean Meenan now must complete formal construction plans for approval by the commission before he can get permits.
Meenan, who owns similar restaurants in other cities, has proposed turning the gas station and two nearby buildings into a two-level restaurant serving Mexican and Cuban cuisine.
Some residents strenuously object to the plans and may appeal to the City Council. Opponents’ objections include potential noise and parking problems.
The business will have a seating capacity of between 205 and 223 customers. Meenan said he has an agreement in place to use a nearby parking lot for up to 50 vehicles.
Wednesday’s decision came more than a year after the commission began considering the proposal. The proposal was opposed by Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents & Associates, which represents people who live and work in the Quarter and also seeks to preserve the neighborhood’s character.
Opponents of the proposal argued Wednesday that the restaurant will be too big and out-of-character with the rest of the French Quarter.
“In another location I think it would be a great restaurant and I would love to frequent it,” said Sandra Stokes, with the Louisiana Landmarks Society. “It is a great restaurant concept that is simply not appropriate for our most important historic neighborhood with such a visible front as Esplanade and Rampart.”
Meg Lousteau, executive director of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates organization, declined to say whether the group will appeal the issue to the City Council. “We’re going to regroup,” she said.
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