By Claire Byun
Tulane Avenue is undergoing a wealth of redevelopment after years of stagnation, and a local architect is hoping to turn the dilapidated Le Petit Motel into an office and retail space.
Developers are hoping to turn the shuttered motel – located at 2836 Tulane Ave. – into a large commercial development with space for offices and retail. Raymond Bergeron, architect, presented his plan to the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization members at their monthly meeting Monday and faced little opposition.
“Tulane Avenue is in a renaissance period right now,” Bergeron said. “Tulane is going to be a Mecca.”
For the project to move forward, Le Petit Motel must be demolished. The Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee heard Bergeron’s demolition request and suggested he ask the neighborhood organization if there was any opposition before approval.
The potential new property owners, Bahram Khoobehi and Houssien Magarhish, also attended the meeting.
The new development would combine office suites with room for commercial retail, such as a drug store or coffee shop. Since the property is so close to the courthouse, Bergeron said attorneys would probably have the most interest in office space. Residential units are not included in the plans.
“We just figured attorney offices and people involved with the courthouse will fit well here,” Khoobehi said. “But we’re open to suggestions, if there’s something that would work better there.”
Developers are not asking for any waivers or variances to zoning codes for the project and plan to provide 68 parking spaces. The site is accessible through two side roads, as well as Tulane Avenue, which should alleviate traffic in the area, Bergeron said.
Le Petit Motel was purchased for $725,000 in April by San Francisco restauranteur Nicholas Fasnella and Devin Vermeulen, a New York-based architect. Fasnella and Vermeulen planed to report the dilapidated motel to its heyday complete with an ‘elevated diner style’ restaurant serving alcohol. Fasnella and Vermeulen put the motel back on the market due to extensive termite damage, Bergeron said. Khoobahi said they haven’t purchased the property yet because they wanted to make sure there was little opposition to their plans.
No one at the meeting verbally opposed the project, though MCNO did receive one letter of opposition, President Emily Leitzinger said.
Bergeron said he wants to transform the shuttered motel into the “star” of Tulane Avenue, but he wants MCNO’s approval the whole way through.
“Our intention will be to keep MCNO aware every step of the way, so we don’t make any missteps,” Bergeron said.
Bergeron’s request to demolish Le Petit Motel goes back to NCDAC at their next meeting on March 20.