By Claire Byun
A six-story apartment complex slated for the edge of Mid-City is one step closer to fruition after zoning adjustments were approved.
The New Orleans Board of Zoning Adjustments approved a density and permeable open space waiver for 1717 Canal St., which is situated at the edge of Mid-City just before the I-10 Expressway intersection. Babington Properties, L.P. needed a zoning change to build a six-story apartment complex with retail area on the site. The lot’s current zoning limits multi-family developments to 1 unit per 1,000 square foot of lot area. For the petitioned property, the regulations would limit the development to 61 units.
Developers want a complex with 212 units with full amenities, a structure for 239 parking spaces and more than 13,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. The structure will be built to the property lines with intermittent balcony encroachments over the public rights-of way, according to documents submitted to the city.
Both the developer and manager of the property spoke in favor of the project, though one neighbor expressed worry about the project’s impact on the low-income area. Joseph Hereen-Mueller, who live sin the area, suggested developers add some low-income units to the complex in order to make the housing more equitable.
“It’s a low income neighborhood and the rents they’re asking for is double the market rate for the area,” Hereen-Mueller said. “It would exacerbate the affordable housing crisis we’re seeing in the city.”
Developers countered that they don’t have set rental rates yet, but officials said the complex will target workforce housing, which includes staff from University Medical Center.
Ramiro Diaz, BZA member, asked if city staff have the ability to require a certain percentage of low-income housing in a new complex. Staff said they’re still developing new policies to combat the lack of affordable housing, but right now there’s nothing in place besides certain tax credits.
“I know there’s a lot of students in that area, so if we can get student housing in there as well, I’m curious about that,” Diaz said.
According to city code, MU-1 districts limit height for multi-family and
non-residential structures to 60 feet and five stories; however, the Canal Street Height Overlay District extends this limit to 85 feet and 7 stories for all properties along Canal Street between N. Dorgenois Street and N. Claiborne Avenue.
The project includes two interior courtyards that contain planters and outdoor seating areas for the residents, as well as a pool. Most of the units are planned as one-bedroom apartments, though there isn’t enough permeable open space to meet city requirements.
The Tulane-Canal Neighborhood Association sent a letter to the BZA in support of the development, documents show.
City Planning staff, however, said the site deserves a special waiver since the building’s design “appropriately buffers the Interstate condition with the surrounding neighborhood while providing needed supply in multi-family housing.”
The plan now moves to the City Planning Commission for approval.