Shelter No.1 Boil House receives lease extension
Billy Wright’s Olde New Orleans Boil House and Coffee House, which has yet to open on Lakeshore Drive’s Shelter No.1, has had its opening in the owner’s lease extended to July 31, 2018.
The Non-Flood Protection Asset Management Authority board met on Thursday, Sept. 28, and Shelter No.1 developer William Wright gave opening comments before the board.
“I’m not trying to open up a strip club, dance club, ball room or anything like that,” Wright said. “A family-oriented, fun New Orleans restaurant. I, as a child, worked there when it was a restaurant because I grew up right across the levee,” Wright said.
When Wright and the Non-Flood Authority approached the City Planning Commission to file a request to establish restaurant, live entertainment, and retail uses at the Shelter Houses No.1 and No. 2 facilities, they received backlash from Lake Area residents. According to Rodger Wheaton, chairman of the Non-Flood Authority recreation committee, the board has yet to find a middle ground with residents on how to go about amending the zoning of Shelter No.1.
Wheaton said the board was accused by residents of trying to “spot zone” through their proposal to the city for a text amendment on shelters 1 and 2. Community members voiced other concerns including how the live music and alcohol from the restaurant would be disruptive and that parking capacities would result in patrons parking in the Lakeshore neighborhood.
“I am confident that if we had the support of the neighborhoods, that [Wright] would have been open by now,” Wheaton said. “We would have a nice facility out there and operating bathrooms,” Wheaton said.
Commerce real estate committee member William Settoon asked Wheaton if the board could extend the deadline for the boil house and coffee house opening date.
“If in fact we can’t get this resolved in this time, we may have to look at other alternatives including rezoning of the area,” Wheaton said.
Wheaton said that he thinks this is the minimum extension to be fair to the developer. He explained that there are other issues on the property that the board has to address, such as a broken main water line at Shelter No.1 and a sewer pipe that is crushed along 30 feet.
Jesse Noel, the executive director of the Non-Flood Authority, said that despite a “standstill”on the zoning of the Shelter No.1, the board is working to have price estimates on repairs. Noel said access gates for shelters 1 and 2 will be placed by a local installer and Wheaton said they may be there in the next 60 days.
Non-Flood Authority chairwoman Wilma Heaton said that the board has committed to Louisiana State Representative Stephanie Hilferty that they will work with everyone involved on this project.
“Progress is messy,” Heaton said. “We started out saying we can not have portalets on Lakeshore Drive because the public deserves better. We don’t want to move a problem around. We don’t want to fix it here and move it there.”
Heaton publicly apologized to Wright and said they will find a solution, even if everyone is not happy with it. The board unanimously approved the new July opening date for Billy Wright’s Olde New Orleans Boil House and Coffee House.