Tuesday, May 29, 2007
This is a post I originally posted to www.squanderedheritage.com
On the drive back from NC today, I got a call. I have to attend a hearing tomorrow morning to save this structure from the wrecking ball. Again. There is a spiritual sense regarding my return and fragile properties. I was not surprised. Last time I came back, the Apricot St. house was mistakenly demolished, and I had this sense to call Karen, "check on Apricot". Sure 'nuf, it was gone. Due to an error on the part of Tony Faciane, which I later learned through documents we obtained from an RFPI. Apricot St. was our sacrificial lamb and the lessons we learned in that case gave us the confidence to work harder to avoid marginal mistakes.
This little house on N. Robertson had been on the imminent danger list last year because it's in a bad way. However, Miss N. and her husband bought it after the storm along with some other properties in the immediate area of N. Robertson and Ursulines. They have already stabilized and redone most of the properties they assumed in this very high risk block and have made an enormous impact with other investors, including Gladys Marigny and Scott Veazey, two well known historic renovators in Treme. The first thing they did was remove the damaged roof from 1114 N. Robertson in order to stop further deterioration. It has become a race against time.
I jumped through all kinds of hoops to get this off the Army Corps' Red Sticker list last year, getting an engineer's report and submitting all the necessary insurance paperwork to City Hall to help save it from demolition. That effort was a success.
Before Katrina it was on the market for a mere 30K and I even gave serious thought to buying it myself but I went ahead with the very large Gothic Eastlake on Gov. Nicholls instead. So this house speaks to me. Miss N. and her husband are going to rebuild it, it's in the queue of their projects in this area of critical mass in Historic Treme. As many people know, N. Robertson has been the core problem crime street for Treme. Before the storm, some of the properties here were simply not for sale. After the storm, the Bynums took advantage of their respected position in Treme to acquire some essential properties with the collective goal of bringing the area up out of its slum state. Chrabonnet funeral home is one property that backs up on this block and has been completely and beautifully renovated. It's an historically important anchor in Historic Treme, home to many landmark Jazz funerals and is now fueling this larger effort toward an architectural rennaissance on N. Robertson and Ursulines St.
I got a call on the way home today that it's on the docket for the Good Neighbor adjudication process for 9 am tomorrow, and N. has to attend a meeting for Women of the Storm so I am going to the hearing, to, yet again, rally hard for giving them every opportunity to get this property back into commerce.
It's brick between post makes it unique because even though it looks bad, the walls are only supporting themselves and can be saved. It probably dates to the mid-to-late 1800's and brick between post construction is unique to the quarter and Treme, so it's worth the all-out effort to save whatever we can. Furthermore, it doesn't post imminent danger to any structure in the immediate vicinity, making triage completely worth the effort.
So this is my welcome home. . . I will attend the hearing on the owners behalf. They have a construction crew working their way to this, fragile structure. Having been through this process, I am confident I can buy them some time. We know, with storm season upon us, time is now of the utmost.