Preservationists Save 1000 Canal Street From Wrecking Ball

Canal Street New Orleans CBD” by Infrogmation is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The preservation community scored a sweet victory last week when the Central Business District Historic Districts Landmark Commission (CBD HDLC) denied a request from Kishore Motwani, Quarter Holdings LLC., to tear down the two-story commercial structure located at 1000 Canal St to make room for a 10-story hotel. 1000 Canal Street is almost directly across the street from two other buildings which had to be razed to make way for the removal of debris from the Hard Rock Hotel. The loss of a third building in that area would have a negative impact on the historic streetscape. 

The effort to save the building was led by the Preservation Resource Center (PRC) in cooperation with the non-profit French Quarter Citizens. The HDLC staff recommended against the demolition and the Commissioners, led by tourism official John Boyd, agreed.

“The PRC was completely in support of the HDLC staff that the demolition of 1000 Canal Street be denied. This 115-year-old building needs some serious TLC but it is structurally sound. A good restoration can absolutely bring this neoclassic building back to its former beauty,” said Danielle Del Sol, PRC Executive Director. “This building does not deserve to meet the wrecking ball solely because of its two-story height. This building should be restored it its former glory. The owner could even access financial incentives to do so, including Historic Tax Credits and potentially a Downtown Development District Façade Improvement Grant.”   

The DDD’s program offers a matching grant up to a maximum of $20,000 to stimulate new investment, enhance business and development opportunities and to attract new customers downtown. Buildings must be located within an historic district or listed on the local or national register of historic places.

French Quarter Citizens president Glade Bilby said, “Any proper preservation is adaptive reuse and integration into the historical context of the area. The proposed new building has no historical context in an area that is an essential historic corridor on Canal Street. This new building would dwarf the Orpheum, and is in an area that is highly regulated by state and city guidelines.” 

According to the PRC, HDLC Commissioners would like to see the neoclassic façade restored and retained. It that were done, a taller setback addition might be acceptable.    

Located at the intersection of Canal Street and Roosevelt Way (pictured above), the building might have had an early use related to silent movies. Other businesses which occupied the site include Siler’s Books, Dr. M.F. Haber Dentist, Adam Shirts, Canal Beauty Shop, and Del’s Wines and Liquors, according to the PRC. A billboard has also stood atop the building for decades. 

Architect Heather Little, AIA, who specializes in historic tax credit-funded rehabilitation projects and hold a master’s degree in architecture from Tulane, represented Motwani on behalf of her firm Rozas-Ward. Rozas-Ward has completed a number of historical rehabilitation projects including the Vitascope at Canal and Exchange Place. They also designed the Kalorama at 700 Magazine Street. Little did not respond to a request for comment.   

Motwani has the legal right to appeal the HFLC’s denial to the City Council. The PRC believes that Rozas-Ward might explore alternative designs instead of seeking a reversal. Councilmembers may be less willing to override the HDLC during the election season for fear of angering preservationists.

Even if placed above the existing two-story historic structure, a new 10-story hotel would create more than a hundred jobs during construction and operation and also contribute to the city’s tax base. “I am excited about the potential and am looking forward to seeing detailed renderings of the proposed development,” said Leo Marsh, chair of the Downtown Development District.  


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